St. Michael's Catholic Church

St. Michael’s Catholic Church, incorporating the state’s oldest Catholic church building, began as a small log meeting house near Cedar Hill in Robertson County. Four families (the Byrnes, Redmonds, Traughbers and Watsons) who settled near Turnersville between 1838 and 1840 built the twenty-two-by-thirty-two-foot church on an acre of land bought for five dollars from Joseph Washington’s estate, Wessyngton. The church was completed in 1842, and on May 8 of that year it was dedicated on the Feast of the Apparition of St. Michael. Later the logs were covered with weatherboarding. In 1846 Saint Michael’s Male and Female Academy was established near the church. It was one of the earliest Catholic boarding schools in Tennessee; it closed in 1855.

An addition built across the rear of the church in 1934 gave the building a T-shape. Materials for the addition came from an old Episcopal church and school on the nearby Glenraven Plantation, between Cedar Hill and Adams. Some of the materials were used to make additional pews. The addition was formally opened and dedicated on May 12, 1935. The concrete block bell tower was added to the front in 1942, giving the church a covered entrance. The tower bell came from the cannibalized Glenraven church.

In 1973 St. Michael’s Catholic Church was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The church cemetery, which includes the graves of original parishioners, was expanded in 1978 by a gift of three acres.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title St. Michael's Catholic Church
  • Author
  • Website Name Tennessee Encyclopedia
  • URL
  • Access Date June 17, 2024
  • Publisher Tennessee Historical Society
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update March 1, 2018