From "Georgia: A Guide to Its Towns and Countryside" pg. 249:
Above the portico a graceful clock tower rises from a square base through three classically adorned octagonal tiers to a tall spire.
The historical marker at the church reads:
"Independent Presbyterian Church
The Independent Presbyterian Church was organized in 1755. The first meeting house stood facing Market Square in Savannah, between what are now St. Julian and Bryan Streets, on property granted by King George II for the use and benefit of those dissenters who were professors of the doctrines of the Church of Scotland agreeable to the Westminster Confession of Faith.
The original church building erected on the present site was designed by John H. Greene, a gifted Rhode Island architect. In 1819 it was dedicated with impressive services which were attended by President James Monroe. The church was destroyed by fire in 1889.
The present church building was completed in 1891. The architect, William G. Preston, followed the general plan of the former structure. It is regarded as a noble example of American church architecture.
Among the distinguished ministers of the Independent Presbyterian Church since its founding have been John Joachim Zubly, 1758-1781; Henry Kollock, 1806-1819; Daniel Baker, 1828-1831; Willard Preston, 1831-1856, and I.S.K. Axson, 1857-1891.
Ellen Louise Axson who was born in the manse of the Independent Presbyterian Church in 1860 was married in 1885 to Woodrow Wilson, later President of the United States, in a room in the manse."
From the Independent Presbyterian Church web site:
Scotsmen landed with James Oglethorpe at the founding of Georgia in1733 and brought with them a strong faith. By 1755, the Presbyterian Church of Savannah, later called the Independent Presbyterian Church, had been established. Its first building, facing Market Square (now Ellis Square), was erected on property granted by King George II, “to the intent and purpose that a place of public worship be there upon erected and built for the use and benefit of such of our loving subjects . . . as are and shall be professors of the Doctrines of the Church of Scotland, agreeable to the Westminster Confession of Faith.” In many ways it became the mother church of Georgia Presbyterians.
The first minister was John Joachim Zubly, a member of the Continental Congress. He preached from a brick structure that was used by the British as a magazine and stable during the Revolution, was destroyed by fire in 1790. A portion of the building on the original site was excavated and reconstructed as a wall in 1980 on the church’s property on West Hull Street across from the present Sanctuary. In 1800, a new building was built on St. James’ Square (now Telfair Square), which was subsequently damaged by a hurricane. The needs of an increased membership led to a third site and structure at Bull Street and South Broad Street (now Oglethorpe Avenue).
Closely modeled after his own designs for the First Congregational Church of Providence, Rhode Island, architect John Holden Green designed the original building on the present site. Master builder Amos Scudder of Westfield, New Jersey supervised its construction. Present at the dedication of this building on Sunday, May 9, 1829 was John C. Calhoun, President James Monroe, members of his cabinet. Reporting on this occasion The Columbian Museum and Savannah Daily Gazette wrote that “From grandeur of design and neatness of execution, we presume this church is not surpassed by any in the United States. It is seldom that we discover a scene more affecting and impressive than this solemn ceremony afforded; and in this city we never witnessed such an immense congregation, so large a portion of which was formed by female beauty.”
Prior to the completion of the sanctuary many of the pews were sold at public outcry with the average auction price of $1,140. Families purchasing pews include such distinguished Savannah names as Adams, Anderson, Barnard, Been, Bryan, Bolton, Burroughs, Cumming, Davenport, Demere, Gibbons, Gordon, Habersham, Hunter, Jones, Lathrop, McIntosh, Reid, Sorrell, Stebings, Stoddard, Sturgis, Taylor, Telfair and Wayne.
During the next decade, Lowell Mason, noted hymn tune composer and father of public school music, served as organist. His works are familiarized in “My Faith Looks Up to Thee,” “Blest Be the Tie That Binds,” “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” “Nearer My God to Thee,” and “From Greenlands Icy Mountains.”
By the time of the Civil War, the ravages of which both the church and Savannah escaped, some of the state bank notes, hand signed and dated, carried engravings of the Independent Presbyterian Church.
In 1885 the manse of the church served as the setting for the wedding of Ellen Louise Axson and Woodrow Wilson. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. I.S.K. Axson, minister of the church and grandfather of the bride.
The magnificent edifice of 1819 was destroyed by the great fire of 1889. A marble baptismal font and flagstones, which Scudder had hauled in wagons pulled by oxen from near his farm in New Jersey, were salvaged. It was immediately decided to reconstruct the sanctuary exactly as it had been. Supervising the reconstruction of the church was Boston architect, William Preston Gibbons. The dedicatory sermon was appropriate entitled, “The glory of this latter house shall be greater than the former” (Haggai 2:9). William Dean Howells, writing in the Harper’s Magazine of February, 1919 notes, “In architecture the primacy must be yielded above every other edifice in Savannah to the famous Independent Presbyterian Church.
The structure on the outside is of such Sir Christopher Wrennish renaissance that one might well seem to be looking at it in a London Street, but the interior is of such exquisite loveliness that no church in London can compare with it. Whoever would appreciate its beauty must go at once to Savannah and forget for one beatific moment in its presence the walls of Tiepolo and the ceilings of Veronese.” Savannah historian, Walter Hartridge speaks of the Independent Presbyterian Church as “Savannah’s most notable building."