Church History

Collective History of the Upperville Methodist Church

As noted by G. Edward Ashby, Jr.

March 16, 2017

I had the opportunity to do some work on the church in removing the early 20th century brick chimney.  Having an interest in local history, building styles, and techniques, I am fascinated with the building.  Its arched openings on the front and sides are unique and original.  The brick work on the front is Flemish bond, which was fashionable up to about this era, and common five row bond on the remaining sides.  There is evidence of penciling showing on the rear brickwork in which the brick were sealed then the joins painted to make the brickwork look more refined.  This practice is little known now but was common from colonial days until the 1880’s.

One of my particular interests, is in the heating of early church buildings.  Colonial churches typically did not have heat (as with Little Fork Church).  Bishop Meade in his writings knew only two churches that had it.  Upperville Methodist Church is the oldest church, in my current findings, that was built with very small stove flues incorporated in the brick wall.  The flue was the width of a brick and about 13 inches long.  They were on the both north and south walls.  The chimneys were probably not very tall because of their size.  They were hard to flash in the early days which may have caused water problems and were covered over about the time a boiler was installed.

The roof was originally wood shingled with a “kick” at the overhang.  The rafters end at the outside wall and rest on the joists, which are actually look-outs mortised into joists running lengthwise. These look-outs project to give an overhang.  In some of the remodeling before 1900, the kicks were changed to a hidden gutter and a metal standing seam roof.  At this time the gable eaves and returns were extended and frieze boards added.  These findings were only evident by a small sample seen where the old furnace chimney was removed.  Some time after the mid 20th century, a new tin roof was installed with the hidden gutters covered over and now there is a pre-painted standing steel roof.

This roof with its wide span has five large hewed trusses with king posts and purlins that support the vertical rafters.  The roof then rested on the brick gables which seemed to put too much pressure on the rear gable when the opening for the chancel was made and reinforcement has been added.  In the attic, there is a “box of rocks” that was used as a counter weight for pulling down a chandelier.

The half round room, its arched opening, and rounded roof structure in the preaching area (the chancel) is most interesting and was likely added around the mid 19th century due to the style and materials used.  The main floor and balcony steps were redone during a major renovation which could have been around 1887.  The curved benches are uncommon and gorgeous and probably of the same period.

Dates and References for the Upperville Methodist Church

G. Edward Ashby, Jr.

March 16, 2017

  1.  Guide to Fauquier County by Eugene M. Scheel 1976:

“Church walls & design of 1832, rebuilt after war damage when it served as a hospital.  Land given by George & Elizabeth Calvert.”  He notes a dedication “Nov. 1869.”

2.  1969 & 1972 National Register of Historic Places, “The town’s oldest church, the Upperville Methodist Church beginning in 1832, is a notable example of rural Federal style architecture.  During the War between the States the church was commandeered by union forces and used as a hospital.  Following the war, the U.S. Congress authorized payment to the congregation for damages.”  (note) “Trinity Episcopal Church, founded 1840.”

3.  Marble stone on church front states, “Methodist E. Church Dedicated 1833”

Notes as Best Read under East Balcony Steps

     1.  F. Staling & Son of Harrisonburg Frescoed & Painted the Church Aug 1887

     2.  Re. Frescoed.  By G. L. Staling 1899 Nov

     3.  This church reopened Sept. 26/87 Bishop Wilson  Preached 11 AM & 8 PM

     4.  Painted by F. Staling & Son of Harrisonburg, VA Aug 1887

     5.  Painted green by M. F. Loyd & Co. 1950

     6.  Painted 1975 / Painted by Russel Leach Painting Co. 11-04-05 (2005?) David Leach, Robert Dunn & Mike Bridreau

     7.  East brick gable in the attic, white paing:  C (?) Slaling undated (forgot to cross T for Staling?)