Thursday, July 9, 2015

Photographing Old Country Churches

A Photographic Tour of Churches 

I love looking at old churches in the countryside. When my husband and I are out driving, I often look in the countryside for those steeples that are a sure sign of a church. We will turn off the main road on our search of the steeple and most of the time we find it attached to a charming country church. Since I always come prepared with my camera, we stop so I can take a few photos. 

We spend a lot of time traveling in our car to photograph lighthouses and when we do we often find a few churches to photograph too. Most of the time these churches are closed when we arrive so my photos are primarily of the outside of the buildings. We have seen all types of churches but I think my favorite is the small white country church that we see throughout the countryside. I have seen these little churches both in the USA and Canada. 

 The photo here is an example of that type of church. This photo was taken in Elsah Illinois, a small 19th century Illinois town just off the Great River Road. The church was built in 1874 and for a long time was the only place of worship in Elsah.

O Come Let us Worship Greeting Card
O Come Let us Worship Greeting Card by mbgphoto
Look at more cards from Zazzle.

On this page I will show you through my photographs some of the churches we have visited during our travels.

Finnish Lutheran Church

Finnish Lutheran Church

We were driving the side roads on the Keweenaw Peninsula in Upper Michigan looking for a lighthouse that I was wanting to photographed. Our GPS got us near the area but not quite to the lighthouse so we were doing a bit of back road exploring when we came across a sign for an historic Lutheran church. We stopped the car and looked down a narrow gravel road/path where we could see the church in the distance. After a bit of discussion, we decided to go down this path and see the church. When I got out of the car I was swarmed by mosquitoes so I took a few quick photos and got back in the car.

The church is a simple white structure that the sign in front said was built in 1888. From the sign I also learned that this church was built by a group of Finnish Immigrants who banded together to form this congregation in Jacobsville, Michigan in1886. They first met in various locations until the church was completed in 1888. Today the church is part of a larger congregation, but it is still used to hold summer vesper services.

Historic Phoenix Church - Michigan Upper Peninsula

Historic Phoenix Church

As we traveled up the main north/south road in the Keweenaw Peninsula we would come across this historic church. We stopped several times trying to get it in just the right light. After a search of the internet, I found that this church was originally built in 1858 in the mining town of Cliff. In 1899 in was taken apart and reassembled in the town of Phoenix where it still stands today. Masses were held at the church until 1957. Today the church is sometimes used for weddings and memorials.

Our Savior Lutheran in Minnesota

Our Savior Lutheran in Minnesota

We stopped to photograph this church while traveling to photograph lighthouses along Lake Superior in Minnesota.

Norwalk Michigan Church

Norwalk Michigan Church

This is a church that we ran across while we were traveling in the lower peninsula of Michigan. Whenever we see an interesting looking church we stop to take photos. I like to use the photos to make greeting cards.

St. Charles Missouri Church Steeple

St. Charles Missouri Church Steeple

Church steeples can often be seen for miles around. This is a steeple that is one that is a bit closer to home for me. It is in the downtown area of historic St. Charles Missouri.

Lee's Chapel

Lee's Chapel

This church was photographed on the campus of Washington and Lee University in Lexington Virginia. This chapel was built in 1867-68 at the request of Robert E Lee, who was then President of the University. When Lee died he was buried beneath the chapel. The chapel is on the list of National Historic Places.

Churches on Canadian Cruise - beautiful church seen during our stops in Canada

Churches on Canadian Cruise
This is a church we saw while on a cruise stop in Nova Scotia

If you have enjoyed my photographs of country churches you might want to check out this book of churches in Minnesota. 

churches of minnesota
Click to View on Amazon


  1. Your church photos are fantastic Mary Beth! Churches really are beautiful buildings and I couldn't help but think "if only those walls could talk!" So much life, love, struggle, joy and faith would have taken place within those walls over their decades of existence. I thought all of the photos were beautiful, but my favorite is the church on the campus of Washington and Lee University. Such simple elegance with tremendous historical importance, yet it looks so inviting and peaceful.

    1. Cynthia Thanks for your comments. I too like the church at Washington and Lee. My son went to law school at W&L so we were able to visit that church several times and take a tour of it. If you ever get that way it is definitely worth stopping.

  2. Beautiful church photos, Mary Beth! I was born in West Virginia and have seen dozens of little white church buildings throughout my life, many of which remind me of "home." I'm with you and Cynthia in choosing the Washington and Lee brick church. Having lived near the colonial area of Virginia for a number of years, that one really resonated with me, too. Beautiful collection!

  3. Love your photos of old churches, Mary Beth! I am always drawn to the ones that are simple in wood and painted white. I don't know, somehow it makes me think that the people who worshiped or still worship there are more focused in using their funds to help the poor and needy than in putting a lot into the building.

  4. I absolutely love old churches as well, and these are outstanding! In fact one of the things I love about visiting my mom, is hearing the little church in our little town play songs on the Church Bells at noon every day.

  5. Lovely photos, Mary Beth. Your album of old country churches is beautiful. I remember enjoying views of old white churches that appear to be liberally sprinkled throughout New England where we'd travel in the Fall for the foliage while I was growing up in New York State. So pretty with the white steeple against the Autumn leaves and mountains in the background.

  6. I love church photos too! Here in Europe where I am there are magnificent cathedrals and I have lots of photos of them on my travel blog. My husband is patient but he is kinda tired of all the cathedrals I make him go inside to see. LOL

  7. Those are lovely church scenes. Such churches are rare here in California, since most early churches were missions and it's getting harder and harder to even find churches with steeples. Newer churches on the West Coast seem to put function and economy before style, and often are in warehouse districts where land is cheaper.


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