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St. John's Episcopal Church

  • 6497 Trotwood Avenue
  • Columbia, TN 38401
  • Overview

    Walk the grounds of this historic landmark, St. John's Episcopal Church which was consecrated in 1842 by James Hervey Otey, first Episcopal Bishop of Tennessee. This church was built by Leonidas Polk, Missionary Bishop of Southwest, and his three brothers, George, Lucius, and Rufus - cousins of President James K. Polk - who divided a grant received from their father, Col. William Polk of North Carolina. The land and material for the church was donated by the brothers and built by slaves. It was a plantation church meant to provide a place of worship for the Polk families, their slaves, and neighbors. During the Civil War, St. John’s was used as a Confederate hospital, although it did not see many patients. Union troops briefly occupied the church and although they did not cause great damage, they did carry off the organ pipes. Behind St. John’s is the traditional churchyard burial ground where Generals Cleburne, Granbury, and Strahl were buried. Years later their remains were removed and re‑buried in other states, but their gravesites at St. John’s have never again been used. Since 1921, services are held only once a year on Whitsunday – the Feast of Pentecost.