Historic Church Has Fallen in Florida

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Island Grove Methodist Church | Alachua County Fl | c. 1880s

Long forgotten and on its last legs stands Island Grove Methodist Church. Located in a modern-day ghost town, this 19th century (circa 1885) church opened its doors and provided religious service and ceremonies for local farmers, fishermen, and citrus growers until 1972.

Island Grove Church as it looked in the 1980s with the steeple still in tact. Photo courtesy of Debra Oliver.

Harsh winters, tough times, and shifting industry forced most out of the area and further south, leaving this once-blossoming community to fall into historical obscurity. 

Structures like this one are few and far between but stand like tombstones marking the places where life used to happen. The floor is sinking into the ground. The back wall has become largely detached from the main structure. The interior ceiling is collapsing. Even the steeple is missing.

A building like this is a museum in its most real, unadulterated form. But the last 40 years of disuse certainly show. It will be a sad day when I visit this site and the church no longer stands. But for now, there is someone who cares about this place.

In the early 2000s, a local stepped up to buy the property and agreed to do what he could to save it. A new roof was put on which has likely been all that has kept it around the past 20 years.

2021 Update

Heavy rainstorms in 2021 finally brought this building down as the foundation became too water-logged to stand any longer. I stopped by the next day to take her photograph one last time.

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  1. Tis a fine and noble work youre doing. That ye hath the wherewithal to so do is wonderful. Please keep on keeping on.

  2. The post office in Island Grove is where Marjorie Kennan Rawlings received her mail. As you probably know, she was the author of “The Yearling,” “Cross Creek,” and, many other novels and other literary works. “Miz Rawlins” as she was called lived in a little “cracker house” in the village of Cross Creek a few miles to the west of Island Grove. She is interred at Antioch Cemetery a short distance northeast of Island Grove.

      1. Where is the exact location of the damaged Methodist church? We were hunting for the ruins today!

  3. In your research, have you learned that this historic church in Island Grove, FL was once named Simms AME Church?

  4. I took the photo in the early 1980s at Island Grove church. Thank you for giving me the photo credit!
    Debra Oliver

    1. Thank you for sharing it because I had never seen it with the steeple in tact before I came across your photo!

  5. My husband and I are reading the book The Creek, by J.T. Glisson. It’s very good, it describes old Florida. J.T. Glisson lived next door to Ms. Rawlings. We stopped by there this past Monday to take a look at her old homestead. It has been kept the same, which is wonderful!!

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