Buck Mountain Church History

Buck Mountain Episcopal Church Historic Landmark


Buck Mountain Church is a rare surviving example of the simple wooden Anglican parish churches that were scattered throughout Virginia in the Colonial period. It is reported to be the oldest church building in the Piedmont. Buck Mountain Church was erected to serve Fredericksville Parish. Its construction began in 1747, five years after the parish was formed. Services were first held on the site in July 1748 but the completed structure was not formally accepted until 1750. The church was abandoned after the disestablishment of the Anglican church at the conclusion of the Revolutionary War. A Baptist congregation used the church building for services from 1801 until 1844 when it was reacquired by a rejuvenated Episcopalian congregation.

The duration of Baptist occupancy can be estimated from their name changes. In 1801, the Albemarle Baptist Church changed its name to Buckmountain Baptist Church. In 1833, they changed that name to Chestnut Grove Baptist Church and that same year built the Union Church in Earlysville. It seems likely that the Episcopalians reclaimed Buck Mountain as their church building about 1833, but it did not legally become their property until 7 August 1844 according to the Albemarle County Deed Book.

In 1859, the building was moved to its present site a little more than one mile due east of its original location. Its dimensions are approximately the same as those specified in 1747 by the first vestry. The windows and some of the siding and trim were replaced either during repairs after reacquisition in 1844 or as part of the move in 1859. Previous descriptions that compared the original building to the present structure cited the 16 April 1745 vestry specification of 32 by 24 feet. But, as vestry entries for February and July 1747 indicate, cumulative changes specified the dimensions were to be 50 by 24 feet — very close to the current dimensions of 50 by 26 feet. As part of the Episcopalian effort to reclaim the church building, Bishop Meade (bishop from 1841 to 1862) visited the site around 1825.

Meade described what he saw in a description he wrote in 1857. “When I first saw it, more than thirty years ago, it was, though said to be repaired, a mere shell, with many an opening in the clapboard walls, through which the wind might freely pass. The inward repairs consisted of removing the old pews into the gallery, where they were pilled (sic) up, and in their room putting benches made of the outside slabs from the sawmill, with legs as rude thrust through, and of course no backs. The old pulpit was left standing, but by its side was a platform made by laying a few planks across the backs of two pews, which the preacher preferred to the old fashion pulpit.” The following chapters provide more detail and references related to significant events in the life of Buck Mountain Episcopal Church.

Early History

Painting of the First Virginia Assembly, 1619
First Virginia Assembly, 1619

Anglicanism came to Virginia in 1607 with the settlers who founded Jamestown. When Virginia’s General Assembly first met in 1619, it formally designated the Church of England as the established church of the colony. After Virginia was made a royal colony in 1624, it would face an acute and serious clergy shortage until the end of the 17th century. In this vacuum, the legislature assumed some Episcopal functions, such as outlining the responsibilities of clergymen and providing for their financial maintenance. It created a vestry system in 1642 and 1643 that was lay dominated — a radical departure from the English system where rectors were nominated by parish patrons and usually held office for life.

In Virginia, vestries usually consisted of 12 wealthy men. Vestries could appoint and remove ministers. Colonial parishes were units of local government and social welfare agencies. In addition to paying the minister’s salary and building churches, the parish levy provided the vestry with funding for poor relief. Vestries were in charge of road maintenance, presented moral offenders to the county courts, and determined the legal bounds of an individual’s land. Henry Compton, Bishop of London in the late 1600s, addressed the problems of the English Church in America by appointing commissaries to act on his behalf. Commissaries could “summon the clergy, conduct visitations, administer oaths, and administer discipline or judicial proceedings to wayward clergy,” but could not ordain the priesthood. The first commissary, Henry Clayton, stayed only two years, from 1684 to 1686. James Blair, the second commissary, held the office for 54 years, from 1689 to his death in 1743. Blair was successful in establishing parishes in every county. He also was committed to educating colonial men for the ministry, and established the College of William and Mary in 1693. Compton’s attention brought stability to Virginia’s church. By 1703, nearly 80 percent of Virginia’s 50 parishes had ministers. In the 1740s, the Anglican Church had about 70 parish priests around the colony. There was no bishop because the priests were supervised by the distant Bishop of London, and he paid little attention. Each county court gave tax money to the local vestry composed of prominent layman. The vestry provided the priest a glebe of 200 or 300 acres, a house, and perhaps some livestock. The vestry paid each priest an annual salary of 16,000 pounds of tobacco, plus 20 shillings for each wedding or funeral. The American Revolution was a difficult time for the Anglican Church in America.

Clergymen were divided between allegiance to their king and their state. As public officials, ministers were required to swear loyalty to the state, breaking the Oath of Supremacy in the process. Some were able to do this, but those who could not either resigned or withdrew from parish duties while continuing to provide pastoral care. There were calls for disestablishment but powerful church members resisted drastic change. In 1777, the legislature passed bills recognizing the church’s right to its property and the right of the clergy to occupy the glebes. Clerical salaries were suspended and ended entirely in 1780. Thus, for much of the war, the Anglican Church faced an identity crisis. It was a state church controlled by a government that was refusing to fund it. After the Revolution when freedom of religion and the separation of church and state became dominant ideas, the Church of England was disestablished in Virginia. When possible, worship continued in the usual fashion, but the local vestry was no longer the unit of local government and no longer handled tax money. In April 1784, a meeting of Virginia ministers asked the legislature to relinquish control over the church and to issue an act of incorporation.

In October 1784, the act passed and placed the government of the now-named Protestant Episcopal Church in the hands of an annual convention with both lay and clerical representatives. The first convention was held May 1785. It elected a standing committee, elected deputies to the first General Convention of the Episcopal Church to be held in September, and created canons. At the second Virginia convention in 1786, the Rev. Dr. David Griffith was elected to become the first Bishop of Virginia. He lacked the funds, however, to travel to England for his consecration and resigned his election in 1789. The following year, James Madison, president of the College of William and Mary, rector of James City parish, and cousin of the future president of the same name, was elected to become the first Bishop of Virginia. 

Madison travelled to England and was consecrated. In 1786, the Virginia Assembly passed the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom written by Thomas Jefferson and supported by James Madison. It also repealed the 1774 act of incorporation for the Virginia church and took from the vestries the oversight of poor relief. Baptists and Presbyterians were proposing that all property of the colonial parishes — glebes, church buildings, church yards, communion silver, and Bibles — be sold for the benefit of all Virginians. Even with a 1788 law confirming the Episcopal Church’s rights to the colonial church’s property and the repeal of all laws creating an established church in 1799, efforts to dis-endow the Episcopal Church continued. In 1801, the General Assembly passed a law authorizing county overseers of the poor to sell property of the former established church, using the money for education and the poor. As late as 1814, the General Assembly was still authorizing the sale of specific parishes’ silver and bells. The next Bishop, Richard Channing Moore, led the rebuilding of the diocese.

The opening of the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria in 1823 provided the diocese with the source of clergy it needed to rebuild. During the Civil War, West Virginia separated from Virginia and, in 1877, that part of the Diocese of Virginia lying within the bounds of West Virginia became the Diocese of West Virginia. In 1892, the southern part of the diocese became the Diocese of Southern Virginia, and from that diocese the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia emerged in 1919. The boundaries of the Diocese of Virginia have remained unchanged since 1892.


In 1742, the General Assembly of Virginia passed an act forming Louisa County from Hanover County, and an act forming Fredericksville Parish from St. Martin’s Parish of Hanover County, both acts to be effective 1 December 1742. It should be noted that although the first vestry meeting was recorded on 10 January 1742, it was in fact already 1743 by the New Style (Gregorian) calendar. The year 1743 would not be recorded as such until 25 March, or New Year’s Day, by the Old Style (Julian) calendar.

Albemarle County was formed from Goochland, and a new parish of St. Anne’s formed from St. James Parish on 1 January 1744. The northern part of St. Anne’s Parish in Albemarle County was added to Fredericksville Parish by an act passed in 1757. The governing body of the parish was the vestry. It was composed of 12 men elected by parish freeholders and heads of household, and deemed by them to be “most able and discreet persons.” Their duties were to employ a minister for the parish, build churches, investigate moral offenses and bring the offenders to the county court for prosecution, care for the poor of the parish, lay the parish levy, and conduct the processioning of land as required by law. The need for churches in the growing county was evident. At the vestry meeting in April 1745, three churches were ordered to be built — two “below the mountains” and one “above the Little Mountains.”

The third church, or “the church above the mountains,” was to be built 10 miles from the foot of the Little Mountains on a straight course North 65 degrees West on Buck Mountain road. [Note: This is an older road no longer in existence — the Buck Mountain road we know today is a different road]. The church dimensions were to be 32 feet by 24 feet. At the February 1746/1747 meeting, this church was ordered built at Anderson’s Plantation, “the former place nominated being too inconvenient for the majority.” This church above the mountains (also called the “church between the mountains” and “Buck Mountain Church”) was finally built on the west side of the Little Mountains on the then Buck Mountain road near Mills’ Branch on the land of David Mills. Work for this church was let in April 1747 to Mr. John Willis for 111.15 pounds sterling. The work was to be completed by 25 December 1748. Even before this church was built, two additions were ordered: one for eight feet in February 1746/47, and another for 10 feet in July 1747. Prior to the completion of this church, divine services were ordered to be performed in May 1748 “where the upper church is to be built.” At the November 1750 meeting, Robert Lewis, Thomas Walker, David Mills and Thomas Meriwether were ordered to “view the work of the upper church and receive it when finished according to agreement.”

In 1779, the General Assembly passed an act stripping the church of its power to lay levies. This act notwithstanding, Fredericksville Parish appears to have continued its levies until 1784 when a second act by the assembly completely disestablished the Episcopal Church in Virginia. This act resulted in a church convention being called in Richmond in 1785 where the Protestant Episcopal Church in the State of Virginia was formed as a self-governing body. Fredericksville Parish’s delegates to this convention were John Walker and the Rev. Matthew Maury. The effect on the parish of the Disestablishment Act and the Richmond convention is readily seen in the vestry meetings of 1785 and 1787. Shortly after the convention, Fredericksville parish elected a new vestry chosen by the church members alone. No longer possessing the power to assess levies for its support, the parish became dependent upon voluntary subscriptions from its members.

Chronology of Important Events at Buck Mountain Church

The following timeline of events are from the Fredericksville vestry minutes provided separately herein. The wording, for the most part, is from the minutes as written.

Other events were found in the family papers of Dr. Edward F. Birckhead (1820-1902) whose papers are housed at the University of Virginia Special Collections Library, and in wills and deeds recorded at the Albemarle County Court House.

  • 01 Dec 1742 Louisa County formed from Hanover, and Fredericksville Parish formed from St. Martin’s.
  • 10 Jan 1742/3 First meeting of the Fredericksville Parish vestry.
  • 16 April 1745 Fredericksville parish vestry decides to build two churches below the mountains and one church above the mountains. The latter was to be built ten miles from the foot of the Little Mountains on a straight course N. 65 W, and on the Buck Mountain road. Dimensions to be 32′ by 24′, 13′ pitch with a gallerie (sic) 8′ out.
  • 02 Feb 1746/7 Vestry ordered the church above the mountains “be built 8′ longer, being found to be too small, and that said church be built at Anderson’s Plantation, the former place nominated being inconvenient to the majority.”
  • 23 April 1747 “… this day the Church, to be built between the Mountains was let to Mr. John Willis …” for 111.15 pounds sterling. One-half to be paid in October ensuing and the other half at the finish, which is to be on Dec 25 1746 (transcription error, probably 1748).
  • 24 July 1747 Vestry “ordered that the Church above the Mountains be built ten feet longer … if the builder’s cost increase were proportional.” Dimensions now are 50 feet by 24 feet. 
  • 08 Nov 1747 Vestry ordered the balance of John Willis’s first payment (29 pounds, 16 shillings, and 10 and one-half pence) to be paid. Last vestry meeting held in the Louisa County courthouse.
  • 24 May 1748 Vestry orders divine services held at the place where the upper church is to be built.
  • 03 Oct 1748 Vestry ordered that “Robt. Lewis, Thos. Walker, David Mills and Nichs. Meriwether Gent. view the work of the upper Church and receive it when finished according to agreement … . To John Consolver for three months service at the upper Church, 50 lbs. tobacco.” (This suggests that church services at the location began in July 1748 three months earlier, two months after divine services were ordered.)
  • 28 Nov 1750 Robt. Lewis, Thos. Walker, David Mills, and Thos. Meriwether or any three of them ordered to view the work on the upper church and receive it when finished according to agreement. (Buck Mountain Church was finally built on the old Buck Mountain road [not the current road] near Mills Branch on the land of David Mills according to the Louisa County Deed Book, D1/2:28.)
  • 20 May 1751 This day the Rev. James Maury (1719-1769) is received by the parish as their minister, with salary commencing as of the day he came to the parish to officiate. He will be allowed 30 pounds (?) per annum in lieu of a glebe until one can be purchased and buildings erected. (Note: Buck Mountain Episcopal Church parishioner Katherine Kingman is a descendent of James Maury.)
  • 29 Nov 1752 First vestry book entry mentioning payment for a sexton at the upper church, David Eppison (or Epperson).Joshua Fry-Peter Jefferson map of Virginia, 1750s
  • 25 Nov 1767 Upon the resignation of John Harvie, one of the vestry heretofore, Thomas Jefferson, is appointed to take his place.
  • 30 Nov 1770 On the removal of Thomas Jefferson out of this parish, John Harvie is appointed in his room.
  • 02 May 1774 “Ordered that … examine the upper Church and what repairs they shall think necessary (if they find it worth repairing) to let to the Lowest bidder.”
  • Dec 1776 Laws against non-conformists and dissenters repealed. They were perpetually exempted from all levies, taxes and impositions toward supporting and maintaining the said (Anglican/Episcopal) church as it was, or hereafter may be established, and its ministers. Also, the law providing for the support of clergy was suspended for a year. (The suspension was subsequently extended.)
  • 24 Mar 1777 Last vestry meeting at which payment of sextons and clerks/readers is listed. Also, last payment for Rev. Matthew Maury (B 1744, D 1808), but he continued to serve until 1808. He occupied the glebe lands and operated the Classical School.
  • 17 Dec 1777 Ordered the Poor House land sold on 12 months credit on 11 Dec next (1778) possession 25 Dec next.
  • Dec 1784 Act of Incorporation for the Protestant Episcopal Church. The act was repealed two years later but it completed the long- delayed work of disestablishment.
  • 28 Mar 1785 Election of a new vestry by those who profess themselves members of the Protestant Episcopal Church.
  • 27 April 1785 Elected vestrymen promised to conform to Episcopal Church law, and appointed John Walker and Rev. Matthew Maury as delegates to the Episcopal convention in Richmond.
  • Figure 8. Thomas Jefferson.
  • 18 May 1785 First Protestant Episcopal convention in Richmond.
  • 1797 Lucy Mills, wife of David Mills, conveys 33 acres “whereon the Buckmountain church was built” to David Michie.
  • 1799 General Assembly strips accumulated property from the Episcopal Church. 1801 An Act of the General Assembly provides for sale of seized Episcopal property at public auction.
  • Mar 1801 Albemarle Baptist Church begins to hold meetings at the Buck Mountain Church.
  • 1801 Albemarle Baptist Church changes name to Buckmountain Baptist Church.
  • 1802 An Act by the General Assembly allows other denominations to use any Anglican Church building erected during the colonial period that no longer maintained an active congregation.
  • 19 Mar 1809 Buckmountain Baptist Church welcomes the returning President, Thomas Jefferson, who replies on 13 April 1809.
  • June 1811 Last entry of old Buckmountain Baptist Church records.
  • CA 1820-25 Bishop William Meade, third Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia, visits the Buckmountain Baptist Church.
  • Aug 1833 Buckmountain Baptist Church congregation changes its name to Chestnut Grove Baptist Church and builds the Union Church in Earlysville.
  • 05 Oct 1840 Albemarle County Court decreed public auction of land which included Buckmountain Church … sold to James Michie.
  • 05 Dec 1843 Albemarle County Court appointed John J. Bowcock to convey the said parcel of land by deed to James Michie or to such person or persons as he might require.
  • 07 Aug 1844 Between John J. Bowcock and James Michie of the one part and Edmund Davis, Seth Burnley, Nelson Barksdale, Jesse Garth, Edmund Farneyhough, James B. Rogers, William Michie, and David Mills of the other part—all of the County of Albemarle … in consideration of the sum of $5 by the parties of the second part to the said John J. Bowcock doth grant, sell unto the parties of the 15 second part the said parcel of land of two acres and ¾ of one acre, being a part of a larger tract of land (owned by) the late James Wood, on which said 2 ¾ of an acre of land there is a church, known by the name of Buckmountain Church. (Deed book 42, pp. 102/103: Marginalia identifies parties of the second part as trustees of a church.)
  • 22 Nov 1854 Copy of the above deed book entry was delivered to Seth Burnley 10 years after the fact (reason for the delay is not clear).
  • 1859 Church was moved from its original location to one nearer Earlysville. The Birckhead papers read, “… now as this church moved the church from the old site named above to site near the village of Earlysville in the year 1859 … .”
  • 16 July 1860 John R. Early and Sarah T. Early sold 1 ½ acres near Earlysville to Edward Farneyhough, John P. Michie, and J. Augustus Michie, Trustee of Buck Mountain Church, for $165 (Deed book 59, pg. 86).

Original Location

On 14 March 1742, the court ordered the construction of the current Buck Mountain Road. The road was completed by the end of 1748 (Historic Roads of Virginia, Albemarle County, 1725-1816, Nathaniel Mason Pawlett). However, an older road referred to as Buck Mountain Road in records ran from Michie’s Tavern (circa 1860/1870) along the present Bleak House road for a short distance, and then turned east to Earlysville, passing the Fray farm. We believe the original site of the church was on this road. Historical documents and interviews with old residents of the neighborhood around the church helped determine the church’s original location. These included The Buck Mountain Church, a pamphlet published in 1928 by the Rev. F.L. Robinson that provided useful history from references; Bishop Meade’s book, The Old Families and Churches of Virginia, published in 1857; and a work entitled, The History of Albemarle, by Edgar Woods.

Cover of Rev. Robinson's 1928 pamphlet entitled

According to Rev. Robinson’s pamphlet, “The first Buck Mountain Church was erected about one mile west of the present building in the year 1747 but, after a period of decay, was finally torn down and in the year 1865 rebuilt on its present site.” (Vestry minutes say church construction began in 1747 and was completed sometime around 1750.) Deed records and the papers of Dr. Edward Birckhead say the church was moved in 1859. Most likely the structure was disassembled and then moved and reassembled. Civil war maps of 1861 to 1864 show Buck Mountain Church at its present location. Rev. Robinson’s pamphlet also says, “The original edifice, built by members of the Church of England, was a wooden building of Churchly architecture, situated on the farm of one David Mills, and no deed to the ground which it occupied was made to the vestry. The building stood on the old county road running from Michie’s Tavern to Earlysville and faced the West. 17 Around the church extended a burying ground for both white and colored people, though the colored section came to be used for a hog-lot.” The pamphlet continues, ” Not a trace of the old church-building remains.”

The Chestnut Grove Baptists also have interest in the history of the church since they occupied the building from 1801 until 1833 when the Union Church was constructed. In the 1990s, a group of Chestnut Grove members began researching the history of notable colonial-era persons. Active in this research was Mrs. Silvia Jones whose great, great, great grandfather was Zachariah Wood, Sr.; and Mrs. Yalden-Thomson whose property had been a part of Zachariah Wood’s property. Mrs. Jones continued her research and discovered the will of Zachariah Wood in the 1840 Will Book 14 on page 102. Zachariah Wood’s will included a plat type map of his and abutting properties, shown here. The map describes as best as could be done in 1840 the properties and their locations, attached herein. Note the reference (lower left corner) to B Church Lot 2 ¾. This is the Buck Mountain Church property that was named Buckmountain Church by the Baptists 18 in 1801, depicted as B Church on the map. Also note on the map the triangle of 2 ¾ acre. This is the location of the church. Ms. Jones continued her research and located the probable church site on the south side of the present Link Evans Road at the end of state maintenance. See Google view next. Discussions with the Chestnut Grove Baptists and a review of their work on the history and location differ from Rev. Robinson’s pamphlet that said “not a trace of the old church-building exists.”

Mr. and Mrs. Yalden-Thomson purchased a farm in the 1960s where the church was located. The farm was built around the time of the Civil War by William Wood. Farm 19 Mrs. Yalden-Thomson now resides at Westminster-Canterbury, where I [Dan Bauer] spoke with her about her recollections. She verified that stones presumably used for the foundation of a building did exist at their farm. These stones are no longer visible because farmers in ensuing years cleared tillable land at the site. In the late 1990s, Mrs. Jones led a group accompanied by Mrs. Yalden-Thomson to document the site. Photographs from this visit are attached. A possible foundation stone or “pointer” was identified and photographed. A pointer is a stone used to mark property junctions. I inspected this site in 2011 and photographed what I believe is this pointer stone.

Other photographs were taken more recently to capture the described and probable old church site, the possible old road and a stone foundation of a structure, and a possible spring house located about 300 feet from the church site and along the old road. Also included is a photograph of the Fray Farm referenced above that was built in 1856- 57. Fray Farm was cited as being located along the old Buck Mountain road. Pointer Stone 20 Possible old Buck Mountain road. Probable original site of church, looking south. The church faced west. 21 Walls of possible spring house near old church site. Fray house, 1856/7, cited as being on Buck Mountain road. 22 Zachariah Wood, father of James Wood, was a colonial-era landowner who owned several thousand acres that included the original site of the church. Old maps [Campbell Civil War 1864] depict a “Wood farm, Bucks M” and the Union Church that was not further identified. The Wood family and relatives had a cemetery off the old road that now is at the end of Link Evans Road. The 1864 map and photographs of the cemetery are shown below. 23 Further evidence regarding the original location supports Mrs. Jones’ findings and is reported in 1854 whereby the 2 ¾-acres parcel is deeded over to the Buck Mountain Vestry.

A copy of this original document is included in Book E. A description of the property is written in the 1854 deed. While difficult to fully decipher, it does support the plat map generated by Mrs. Jones based on Zachariah Wood’s deed and other property deeds. My translation of the description in the 1854 deed is as follows: “… the said piece or parcel of land of two acres and ¾ of one acre lying and being in Albemarle County being a part of a larger tract of which the late James Wood deed, seized and prophesized, on which land 2 ¾ of an acre of land there is a church, known by the name of Buckmountain Church, and which said piece or parcel of land is bounded as follows to wit: Beginning at Marguerite Earlys home in the road leading to said church, then a with [may mean ” then on with”] said Earlys line 36 poles to pointer, S 40 E 18 ½ poles to black oak S 54 ½ E 11 poles to pointers, N 342/12 E 28 poles to the beginning.” [Note: A pole is 5.5 yards, a distance measure that was based on the length of the pole used to control oxen pulling wagons, and is the same as a rod of measure.]

Select 20th Century Events

Bell Tower

Cordelia Plunkett’s “Brief History of Buck Mountain Episcopal Church 1925-1980” written in 1987 describes the bell tower as an outgrowth of the first meeting of the Buck Mountain Church Preservation Association in either August or September 1928. The impetus for the tower came from Rev. Churchill Chamberlyane (not sure of spelling), rector in 1910, who suggested that the church needed new gates and a belfry tower. After Chamberlyane’s death the rock wall in front of the church was constructed at a cost of $250 and dedicated to his memory on 28 August 1940.

According to Jullian Catterton, the tower was constructed in the 1930s, probably in 1933, by Louis and Bill Huff. Louis and Bill Huff were local residents and parishioners, and the sons of long-time parishioner and vestry member, J.W.Huff. In November 1993, parishioners Harry Austin, Al Meyer, and Geoffrey Mattocks inspected and removed the bell. They found that the bell tower structure was unsafe so the vestry approved removal of the bell tower in December 1993. The bell is now being stored in the church basement. The bell was cast in Ohio. It weighs about 60 pounds and is about 15 inches in diameter. The clapper is a small cast-metal unit that was incorporated into a ring that passed through the center of the top of the bell to which a rope was attached. The bell was suspended in a yoke attached to an oak frame. When the rope was pulled it activated the clapper. Figure 9. Buck Mountain Preservation Association, 1928 Figure 10. Sketch of Bell Tower drawn by Harry Austin, November 4, 1993 25 The bell tower was built with four telephone poles implanted in concrete bases.

These poles angled in to form a five-foot square that supported the structure that housed the bell. The lower part of the tower was covered with lattice and the top part containing the bell was covered in slats similar to shutter slats. [Note: Geoffrey Mattocks, who helped dismantle the tower, provided a memo in December 1993 that described the structure.] A storm on Monday, 21 July 1997, destroyed the bell tower. Instead of reconstructing the bell tower, the insurance payment was used to help pay for the construction of Deese Hall, shown partially completed in this photo. Deese Hall is used for coffee hours, meetings, Sunday School, and administrative space.

Parish Hall

The Parish Hall is an old building that is owned by the Diocese of Virginia. It was originally located east of Zion’s Crossroads in Oilville, Virginia. Before it was acquired by the diocese, the hall had many uses, including serving as a dance hall. Ruby Birckhead learned from Mararet Huff that the Huff brothers moved the old building piece by piece and then reassembled it at its present site. Most likely it was moved and reconstructed in 1936 since the vestry minutes of 23 April 1937 detail the expenses of labor, hauling ($48.60), lumber, hardware, and new windows. Bishop Mason paid $150 for a new roof and Miss Thea Birckhead gave $200 to finish paying the debt. The building was named the Birckhead Memorial Parish Hall. The ladies of the Women’s Auxiliary, founded in 1927 and active until 1938, were pleased to have this new facility. Their minutes of 14 January 1937 say, “On January 14th, 1937, our Auxiliary held its first meeting in the Parish House. This seemed almost unreal, so long had we possessed it only in our dreams.”

By the 1960s, the Parish Hall was in great need of repair and renovation. In 1962, a new sink, hot water heater, and windows were installed. In 1965, $50 was spent on the roof, $50 for kitchen floor tile, and $300 for furniture and curtains. In 1966, bathroom fixtures were added for $85 and a septic field for $425. In 1977, the acoustical tile was taken down and the wood wainscoted sides and ceiling were again exposed. Catherine Morris donated a chandelier she had obtained from the owner of the Alluvia estate. She had the chandelier repaired and hung. The Parish Hall has been an asset to the church and the community, and once housed a Well-Baby Clinic. Boy Scout Troop 75, a square dance group, a Home Demonstration Club, and the Abundant Life Church have all met at the Parish Hall. It is now being used for a twice-monthly food pantry and a variety of community and church events. Current parishioners have given much in “sweat equity” to improving the hall. Ann and John Jacoby helped refinish the wood floor and Harry Austin and others rebuilt the rear wall, getting rid of two windows and adding dry wall.


Dan Bauer & Jim Eddins, co-authors
Rebecca Trexler, editor 
Doug Smith, graphics