Possum Trot Church
The Possum Trot Church is the "cradle of Berry College." Built originally
around 1850. the old church was appropriated by Martha Berry for the Possum Trot
Sunday School in 1900. (Possum Trot was a school from 1900-1954). The
needs of the people at Possum Trot, and places like it, inspired her to build
the schools to help children of the area learn how to use their talents and
resources better. Miss Berry's title, "The Sunday Lady of Possum Trot," originated from her Sunday school at the church.
Miss Berry painted scriptures on the walls of this church to compensate for
the lack of Bibles. The walls still proclaim, "The eyes of the Lord are in
every place beholding the evil and the good."
In the early 1930's, three rustic schoolrooms that matched the setting were
added and the grammar grades were moved there from the log cabin area (old
Beverly Hall) on the main campus. Children of faculty and staff and the Possum
Trot children attended classes together. These children studied under the able
teaching of Mrs. Fred (Elsie Andrews) Ford, who had previously taught at both
the Mountain School and at the grammar school in the log cabin area.
During World War II and for a short period following it, from 1942-1948, the
Possum Trot school was closed. It reopened in 1948 with Elizabeth Daniels
Taylor as teacher and Mr. James Daniels as industrial arts teacher. Later Mrs.
Samuel Poe Carden taught at Possum Trot until the school was closed in 1954.
One of the classrooms was renovated by the Berry College Student Government
Association as a Mountain Day American Bicentennial project in 1976. Student
interest in Possum Trot has remained high over the years; and in 1984-85 and
1985-86, the Student Government Association assisted through volunteer work in
the full restoration of the buildings. With the assistance of the physical
plant of Berry College and with alumni
volunteers led by Newton Wagner, a Possum Trot graduate, the safety and
preservation of this historic complex have been assured.
Possum Trot Homecoming is held each year on the third Sunday in September
with "dinner on the grounds" between "preaching" at 11 a.m. and "singing" in the
afternoon. The public is always welcome to bring dinner and participate in this event. In October 1995, Berry Elementary School children reenacted school days at
Possum Trot in conjunction with the Georgia legislature's proclamation of
October 7 as "Martha Berry Day in Georgia."
Behind the church stands a small log house that once served as the home
economics department and as the kitchen and dining hall for the Possum Trot
School. This cottage had fallen into a state of disrepair through lack of use
until it caught the eye of an enterprising industrial education student, Robert
Plank, from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, who offered to restore it in exchange for
its use as a residence for himself and his wife until he graduated. His offer
was accepted; and upon his graduation in 1976, it became staff housing.