St. Martin in the Fields Episcopal Church was organized in 1951 as part of a diocesan master plan to place a ring of churches around Atlanta in what was then its suburbs. It took the name St. Martin in the Fields after the home parish of General James Oglethorpe, who was the first governor of Georgia. The mission began its services in the chapel of the general’s namesake, Oglethorpe University, located nearby. A 7-acre parcel of land fronting Ashford Dunwoody Road was purchased from the university.
The first service was held in the present nave in 1954, and St. Martin’s became a full parish of the diocese in 1956. The day school — a kindergarten of two classes with 43 children — was founded in 1959 and has grown to today’s 2-year-olds through eighth grade with about 600 students. As the school and congregation have grown, the campus structure has grown, too.
The first educational building, Pierce Hall, was completed in 1961. In 1963, the nave was enlarged to its present size. St. Martin’s originally intended to expand its number of services as the parish grew. Gable Hall, which now houses the parish offices, meeting facilities, and the parish hall, was completed in 1977. A classroom building, Claiborne Hall, was completed in 1988. Young Hall, another classroom building, was completed in 1991. In 1997, the last available contiguous piece of property was purchased, and a major capital campaign resulted in the construction of the New Hall classroom building, the gymnasium, and the cafeteria facility. As part of this effort, Gable Hall and the older Nicholson and Pierce buildings underwent major renovation, and St. Mark’s Children’s Chapel was created in lower Pierce Hall.
Last summer, Claiborne Hall, home to the school’s Early Childhood program, was the victim of an arson fire and is currently under reconstruction and renovation. The school is in the midst of a capital campaign to finish the project. During the construction, Early Childhood is utilizing space in Upper and Lower Pierce Hall.
In 1988, the Chapel of the Resurrection, commonly known as the Columbarium, was established as a final resting place for the ashes of St. Martin’s families. By 2013, all of the 264 Niches had been sold. A parish-wide fundraising campaign enabled the renovation of the Columbarium, doubling the size of the existing Chapel and adding 278 Niches for a total of 542.
St. Martin’s celebrated the 50th anniversary of the parish in 2001 in the new gymnasium. It is significant to note that to celebrate this event, the church raised $50,000 to help fund the new St. Columba’s mission church, located about 20 miles north of St. Martin’s in the rapidly growing North Atlanta community of Suwanee, Georgia. The ring of churches envisioned by the diocese all those years ago is still expanding, and St. Martin’s is still sharing its cloak.
A hardback edition of St. Martin in the Fields, a detailed history with extensive appendices, is available upon request.
St. Martin’s has a history of long relationships with its rectors. There have been only five in the half-century of the parish’s history.
The Rev. A. L. Burgreen (1952–1958)
The Rev. Canon Samuel T. Cobb (1959–1965)
The Rev. Martin Dewey Gable (1965–1989)
The Rev. Douglas B. Remer (1991–2002)
The Rev. John F. McCard (2003–2017)
St. Martin of Tours is our Patron because the great London church is named for him, and we, in turn, took our name from that church. We honor St. Martin by always remembering his most legendary act: the sharing of his cloak with a beggar. As we follow Christ, we work to share God’s love through prayer and action with each other and the community.