As the Georgia Department of Transportation prepared to widen Georgia Highway 20 between Canton and Cumming, Macedonia Baptist Church found itself slated for demolition. However, due to a Ball Ground couple, the church building will be given a second life in a new location.
Lee and Brittani Lusk, who own and operate The Wheeler House wedding venue in Ball Ground, made the decision to save the church by disassembling it and transporting it from the Macedonia community to Ball Ground, where it will be reassembled on land near The Wheeler House. Once the structure is rebuilt in its new home, the Lusks have said they will be using the old church building as a wedding and special event venue, Brittlee Chapel.
“When we found out the DOT was needing to take down the church to widen the road, we were devastated,” Brittani Lusk said. “This church has been such a staple in the community. Lee and I were the last couple to get married in the original Macedonia Church on Jan. 26, 2019. We couldn’t bear the thought of the church one day being hauled off to a dump. Since we already own The Wheeler House wedding venue in Ball Ground and renovate multiple historic homes within the community, we had the wild idea to ‘save’ the church board by board.”
Lee Lusk said he grew up in Macedonia Baptist Church and that, when it came to light that GDOT would be widening the road and taking down the church in the process, the church decided to sell the property and move to a new location nearby. Meanwhile, he and his wife were able to obtain permission to carefully disassemble the original church building and were given seven days to have it completely taken down. Over the course of these seven days, teams were hard at work to carefully disassemble it.
“Cranes were brought in to remove the roof truss, brick masons meticulously removed the bricks one at a time so that they wouldn’t tumble into Highway 20, and multiple crews were brought in to dismantle the church to the dirt,” Brittani Lusk said.
As the church was being dismantled, the Lusks said they made a fascinating discovery. According to Lee Lusk, hidden behind the façade of bricks that had been added in the mid-20th century was the original wood siding from the late 1880s, while the sheet rock walls on the inside of the building covered up the original interior walls. Amazingly, the Lusks said the wood, despite being more than 130 years old, was still in immaculate shape. Similarly, there were more than 60,000 cut nails dating back to the initial construction that had to be removed from the wood in order for the church to be disassembled.
Virtually nothing that was added to the church building during renovations in the 20th century was saved during the dismantling of the structure, so that when guests visit once it is rebuilt, they will be able to see the church almost exactly how it was when it was built in the late 1880s. The only real change the Lusks plan to make to the building is to add a steeple onto it. Lee Lusk said the church had attempted to add one approximately 100 years ago, but that one of the workers involved in its construction had died, and no further work to add a steeple had ever been done.
When the Lusks told the congregation of Macedonia Baptist Church their plans to disassemble the original structure, the church members reacted in an overwhelmingly positive way.
“The response we got was unbelievable,” Lee Lusk said. “There was a lot of excitement. While we were working, there were people across the street who sat and watched us take it down.”
Brittani Lusk added, “A number of church members volunteered to help us.”
The Lusks said their current plan was to begin rebuilding the church at its new location in Ball Ground and have it open and ready to host weddings and special events by the fall.