I lost a friend late last year - RIP Pleasant Green

January 23, 2015  •  4 Comments

I've lost a friend.

Not just any friend but a friend that I cherished and adored.

One of those "once in a lifetime" friends that never complained but always seemed to know when I needed comfort.  

A friend that withstood the storms of life yet kept shining until the final day; one whose very bones creaked as age began to take its toll.

A friend that will never return.....

That friend was Pleasant Green.

Pleasant Green wasn't just any friend. I remember the first time I saw her and knew then that something about her was special.

Just who was Pleasant Green?

Pleasant Green was the Methodist Episcopal church that had shared the Mississippi Delta landscape with Mont Helena plantation since it was first constructed in 1878. In the late afternoon on Friday, October 24 she took her last breath and collapsed in a pile of lumber, bricks and glass completely entombing the old piano that was the last remaining thing in the old church. Nature and time had won the battle.

There are many old churches throughout the Mississippi Delta that have suffered the same fate as Pleasant Green but none of them were probably loved as much. She was the focus of the lens of many photographers, both outside and inside and while I can't be for sure, I think we all pretty much felt the same way when it finally happened. I know my friend Dave Wolanski felt the same way as he wrote in this blog post.  Another photographer that photographed the old church was my friend Michael Foster using an old wet plate process that made the photos look timeless.

I've been photographing the old church for several years and have various images.  Some were made while in a driving rainstorm and others were done on overcast or sunny days.  Regardless of when I made an image I always felt a connection to the old church.  Each time I returned I could tell it was leaning more and more and when I was there the last time before it fell, I told the guy I was with, Tom Rankin, that it couldn't last much longer.  The amount of lean in the old building had increased significantly in just a few short months.

For years she has stood with that lean and earlier last year I penned a couple of blog posts about the old church entitled "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" and "Returning to Nature - The Church at Mt Helena Plantation."

When I was back at the old church in November 2014, I was overwhelmed by the emotions I felt as I stood propped against the tree that was at the front corner of the church. I couldn't believe the church was gone, and the tear in the corner of my eye reflected as much.  

What will happen to the remains of the old church?  I'm sure it will eventually be hauled off or burned or perhaps both and the property reclaimed for agriculture but regardless of the final disposition I will always have the memories in my mind and in photographs.

Here are some of the images I have done over the years as well as a one from Tom Rankin who is known for his images of the Mississippi Delta landscape using a large format camera, which you will see in one of the images below.  There is another image by my friend Cort Anderson who visits the Delta a couple of times a year.

Enjoy the below images.  Any comments would be appreciated.

Church at Mont HelenaChurch at Mont Helena - May 2012The old Pleasant Green Methodist Episcopal Church at Mt Helena Plantation near Rolling Fork, Mississippi Pleasant Green Methodist Episcopal Church in the RainPleasant Green Methodist Episcopal Church in the Rain - November 2013The old Methodist Episcopal church at Mt Helena Plantation in a driving rainstorm. Delta PianoPleasant Green Methodist Episcopal Church

Pleasant Green Church from the rear.From the rear - June 2014The old church from the rear.

This next image has my copyright on it because the website software does that by default but it isn't my image. The image was made by Tom Rankin in June 2014 while we were shooting the old church.  He owns all rights to the photo and has graciously allowed me to use it as part of this blog post.

Pleasant Green Methodist Episcopal Church.Pleasant Green Methodist Episcopal Church by Tom Rankin - June 2014Large format photograph made by Tom Rankin in June of 2014 of the Pleasant Green Methodist Episcopal Church at Mt Helena Plantation near Rolling Fork, MS. Tom at his best setting up to shoot the shot above.

Shooting Pleasant Green with Tom HardinShooting Pleasant Green with Tom HardinTom Hardin setting up his large format 8 x 10 view camera to photograph the old church. The below image is from my friend Cort Anderson.  Even though my copyright appears on the image the photo is owned by him and he has allowed me to use them on the blog.

Inside of the old church. Photo ©Cort Anderson

And finally, one of my favorite images, the old piano that was inside the old church.

Old Piano in the Church at Mt Helena PlantationOld Piano in the Church at Mt Helena PlantationA favorite image of mine, the piano in the Pleasant Green Methodist Episcopal church from June 2011.


Comments

4.Penny(non-registered)
Thank you for sharing!! More people need to appreciate the beauty of things of the past.
3.'OleCodgerPrecher' aka Chester Estes Jr (PrayerTimeMinistry)(non-registered)
I, too, have lost a friend - CMC, Newton, MS - like the churches telling the story. Thanks for your gift of photography to hear worship from their benches....
2.Susan P. Dutka(non-registered)
A loving tribute to a special place. Thank you.
1.Dave(non-registered)
Losing that old church was exactly like losing a beloved senior citizen relative! Great post and photos. I'm going to miss that old girl...
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