GLEN ALLAN, Miss. (WJTV) – Most of us are familiar with the Windsor Ruins in Claiborne County. Just the columns are left of what was perhaps the finest home of its era in the South. But there’s another set of ruins in Mississippi you need to know about.
They’re not as grand as Windsor, but their story is more complex. This is what’s left of St. John’s Episcopal Church on the banks of Lake Washington at Glen Allan, about 30 miles south of Greenville. In the 1830s, planters started settling in the Delta around Lake Washington. Most were of English descent, some even born in England. When they built a church, it took several years to complete because many of the furnishings were ordered from England.
Finally, the church was dedicated in April 1857. It was likely Easter Sunday on April 12 that year. That would be the logical day to dedicate a church in springtime. However, the service was cut short because of an early spring snowstorm.
St. John’s is a ruin now, the culmination of a long decline that started just after the Civil War. Legend has it that the beautiful stained-glass windows were sacrificed in the war so the lead from them could be melted into bullets. The demise of the structure started with the weathering that was caused by the gaping holes where the windows had been.
Then, an early 20th century tornado left St. John’s in about the shape it’s in today. Just the corner tower walls are all that’s left that stands at any height.
I have a bunch of still shots I’ve taken of St. John’s in all kinds of weather, all times of the day and night and under all sorts of lighting conditions. Even headlights as we were passing through on a journey to the Ozarks one early morning.
St. John’s joins Mississippi’s other witnesses to the past, their presence attesting to the faith of its founders and their determination to build a proper house of worship in what was the wilderness at the time. Just a shell now. A ghost of the ages that tells its silent story of still being there to anyone who cares to listen.