Georgia Legislative Documents
Part V.--Resolutions.
1882 Vol. 1 -- Page: 688
Sequential Number: 505
Law Number: No. 57.
Whereas, Ransom Montgomery, under a resolution of the General Assembly of this State, adopted at the session in 1849, was purchased by the State of Georgia with intent to provide him a permanent home in consideration of valuable services rendered the State by him, in saving the bridge of the Western and Atlantic Railroad across the Chattahoochee river from destruction by fire; and
Whereas, By Act of the General Assembly, approved February 8, 1854, the authorities of said Western and Atlantic Railroad were required to take into the service of said road the said Ransom Montgomery, requiring such labor of him as he was able to perform, and to pay him for the same; and
Whereas, Since the leasing of the Western and Atlantic Railroad, employment has not been furnished the said Ransom Montgomery; and
Whereas, It is the purpose of this General Assembly to carry out in good faith the intentions of the people of this State, as expressed by their constituted representatives, so far as the same can be done under the Constitution of the State: therefore
Be it resolved by the House of Representatives, the Senate concurring, That the superintendent of public buildings be, and he is hereby respectfully requested to employ, permanently, the said Ransom Montgomery to take charge of and keep in order the closets in the capitol building, said work to be performed under the direction and supervision of the superintendent of public buildings; provided, that nothing in this resolution contained shall prevent the superintendent from discharging said Montgomery for neglect or refusal to do the duty assigned.
[Sidenote: Superintendent public buildings requested to employ Ransom Montgomery.]
Resolved, 2. That the pay fixed for the said Ransom Montgomery for the services aforesaid shall be fifteen dollars per month, which amount is hereby appropriated out of any money in the treasury not otherwise appropriated; provided, that the salary to be paid to the said Ransom Montgomery be paid by the Treasurer to the said Ransom Montgomery personally.
[Sidenote: Salary $15 per month.]
[Sidenote: To be paid to him personally.]

Approval Date: Approved September 27, 1883.
  Ransom Montgomery
Big Bethal A.M.E.
212 Auburn Avenue
Sweet Auburn Historic District
Atlanta, Georgia

Architect: J.A. Lankford
Architectural Style: Between 1920 and 1930 
J.A. Lankford, a black architect, changed the 
identity of the restored church from Victorian
 to Romanesque Revival.
Original Use: Has been an important 
spiritual/social/political institution in the 
Sweet Auburn Ave. Community since inception.
Present use: Continues functioning as a community church. 1840- Col. Lemuel P. Grants, for whom Grant Park was named, gives Ransom Montgomery and other African Americans property on which to erect their own place of worship. A site was selected on Jenkins Street, where the church stood until Federals destroyed it during the Civil War. Colonel Grant returned the site to them, but it was sold and property on Wheat Street (later called Auburn Ave.) was purchased. 

Big Bethel A. M. E. Church was founded in 1847, and is the oldest predominantly African American congregation in the Metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia area. Historical records indicate that our congregation, variously Old Bethel, Bethel, the African Methodist Episcopal Tabernacle and finally Big Bethel, was formed prior to the incorporation of Atlanta on December 28, 1847. However, the roots of the congregation of Big Bethel emanated from the population of Terminus, GA that incorporated under the name of Marthasville in 1843. Thus was established the first colored church in Marthasville and it was Methodist. In 1847, the city officials determined that the township of Marthasville was destined to become the railroad center of the South; thus the name Marthasville was changed to Atlanta.
After the Civil war, the congregation became associated with the A. M. E. Church, the first independent denomination in the country. Bishop Payne sent Rev. James Lynch to organize the A. M. E. Church throughout the South. While passing through Atlanta, he met Brother Joseph Woods, a member of Bethel Tabernacle. One year later in 1866, Rev. Joseph Woods was appointed as the first pastor of Big Bethel A. M. E. Church.
Big Bethel rapidly grew to become a center of the community as well as a focal point for social action. In 1879, the Gate City Colored School, the first public school for African Americans in the city, was founded in the basement of Big Bethel. It later moved to a building on Houston Street. In 1881, Morris Brown College, the only college in Georgia started solely by African Americans, held classes in the basement of Big Bethel before moving to its first campus.
For years the church was used for community gatherings because it was the largest meeting space in the African American community. Big Bethel was known as Sweet Auburn's City Hall. In 1911, President William H. Taft spoke from the pulpit of Big Bethel. Heaven Bound, an internationally acclaimed and celebrated morality play, was first performed in 1930, and continues to open to packed houses after 70 years. In 1990, Big Bethel again became part of history when Nelson Mandela spoke here. Big Bethel has been designated a historic landmark
  July 10, 1883