Sunday, June 26, 2011

Old Stone Church at Greenspring

Old Stone Church At Greenspring, Marker No. A-67Frederick County, VA

Marker No. A-67

Marker Text:  One-half mile west at Greenspring stands the Old Stone Church, the second church building on the site, which was built in 1838 for a Lutheran congregation. The first church had been built as a subscription school and as a house of worship. Old Stone Church and its large cemetery both had been long abandoned when, in 1927, Cora Bell Crim led local residents in restoring them and forming the Old Stone Church Memorial Association. The earliest extant Lutheran church in Frederick County, Old Stone Church is a rare example of the simple stone churches once common in the northern Shenandoah Valley.

Old Stone Church At Greenspring on Green Spring Road

The church is located down the road which is across the road from the marker to the right of this photo.  Photo taken looking east on Route 671 (Green Spring Rd.)

Location:  Near Green Spring, Virginia northwest of Winchester at the intersection of County Route 671 (Green Spring Road) and County Route 676 (Warm Spring Road), on the north side of the road across from road to church.  Erected by the Department of Historic Resources in 1998.

  Located in the rolling farmland of northern Frederick County, the Old Stone Church has changed little since its beginning. To get the church you leave the main road and travel on a winding lane through farmland to the church through open fields of pasture in all directions.

Old Stone Church and Cemetery at distance setting on knoll  Old Stone Church sits on a knoll nestled against a grove of mature trees overlooking the surrounding farmland, just off Route SR 671, near the community of Green Springs in northern Frederick County, Virginia. Situated on approximately 9½ acres of land, the stone church was built for a German Lutheran congregation around 1820. The church was rebuilt in 1838 after a fire damaged the building. Old Stone Church is the earliest existing Lutheran church and the second oldest stone church surviving in Frederick County today.

Old Stone Church looking at the front of the church  The single-story, uncoursed native limestone, cut stone building has three bays and a corrugated tin gable roof with some sandstone interspersed with the limestone. The rectangular block form of the church is similar to other meetinghouses built by congregations in the surrounding communities and across Virginia during the early nineteenth century.

Old Stone Church National Register marker next to front door  The floor plan consists of two rooms divided by a partition, one room serving as church meeting space and the other as a school. The church was used as a school to educate students of the local community. Germanic culture considered religion and education to be an important part of its family life. Among Lutheran and Reformed Germans, schoolhouses were often the first buildings to be built. Most Germans could read and write and they wanted their children likewise to be educated. The interior is virtually unchanged from the mid-nineteenth century, and electricity and plumbing have never been introduced.

  A cemetery with many headstones dating from the early to mid-nineteenth century are located in the east yard of the church and includes a special monument built in 1940 as a memorial to the unknown who are buried there. The cemetery has over 425 graves and the earliest marker found is dated 1827.

Water pump in front of Old Stone Church At Greenspring

Water pump near entry fence to the church.  Building never had electric or plumbing installed.

  Today the Old Stone Church Memorial Association maintains the church, and although Old Stone Church no longer has an active congregation or school, it continues to provide a place for annual reunions, picnics, and weddings for many descendants of these original settlers as well as local residents. The building stopped being used for worship around the time of the Civil War, but continued as a school until it was closed in 1909 when several of the one-room schools in the area were consolidated into a community school.

Old Stone Church seen from the parking lot for church  Old Stone Church has always served as a community gathering place. Even after regular worship services ended and the school closed, the building continued to provide a space for special meetings and activities. The Old Stone Church stood vacant and unattended for several decades. In 1927, a group of sixty-nine descendants and local members of the community joined together to form the Old Stone Church Memorial Association. Their objectives were to maintain the building and the grounds. This is believed to be one of the earliest preservation movements in Virginia. This Historical highway marker was placed on Route 671 in 1998 to remind residents and visitors of the significance of the Old Stone Church to the people who first moved into this area of the Shenandoah Valley and those who continue to reside here.

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