Marker Monday: The Birthplace of Columbia Theological Seminary

The Theological Seminary at Lexington, 1826-1829. Image courtesy of George Arthur Harwood.

This week’s #MarkerMonday highlights the newest Georgia Historical Marker in Lexington, Georgia. In consideration of social distancing precautions, the Georgia Historical Society is highlighting The Birthplace of Columbia Theological Seminary historical marker with a series of blog and social media posts. Today, we look at the founder of Columbia Theological Seminary, Reverend Thomas Goulding.

Thomas Goulding was born in Liberty County, Georgia, on March 14, 1786, to Margaret Goulding Croft Hoyt and Thomas Goulding. After attending school at Sunbury Academy in Sunbury, Georgia, he traveled to Connecticut to continue his studies. He later returned to Sunbury to teach with his new wife, Anne Holbrook, and their daughter. He entered the Harmony Presbytery and spent years studying the gospel ministry before becoming an ordained pastor in White Bluff, Georgia, in 1816.

Six years later, in 1822, Goulding moved to Lexington, Georgia, and was offered a position at the Lexington Presbyterian Church. He preached at multiple churches around Lexington and joined the Georgia Educational Society, an organization focused on interdenominational education of future ministers. By 1825, Thomas Goulding was becoming even more involved with the church and the education of its members. He directed the addition of a girls’ department, known as the “Female Academy” at Meson Academy, a school nearby. His involvement with the Meson Academy deepened his involvement until he opened the Theological Seminary in 1828 in a house across the street from the Lexington Presbyterian Church. In 1830, the Theological Seminary, Rev. Goulding, and two of his original students moved to Columbia, South Carolina, to be more centralized for students in the South. Goulding led the Theological Seminary at Colombia until 1835.

Explore the links below to learn more about the Columbia Theological Seminary.

Full Marker Text

Related Marker Text – Meson Academy

Related Marker Text – The First Presbyterian Church, Bibb County

Related Marker Text – Francis Robert Goulding

New Georgia Encyclopedia – Columbia Theological Seminary

South Carolina Encyclopedia – Columbia Theological Seminary

Collection Items:

Thomas Goulding letter

The Georgia Historical Quarterly has published an article relating to Rev. Thomas Goulding which can be accessed on JSTOR. If your library does not have access to JSTOR, you can go to and create a free MyJSTOR Account.