IN 2018, THE HISTORIC POLEGREEN CHURCH FOUNDATION will recognize and celebrate the founding of the original Polegreen Church in this place 275 years ago.
From that simple beginning came tumultuous events, for that modest church made history in many ways. Its founding foreshadowed not only the end of the “establishment of religion” enforced by the British Colony of Virginia since 1607, but it was destined to shine new light upon the concept of freedom of religion — one that would include poor Africans brought to this new land in servitude.
God’s servants in this time of new light were notable, and one in particular stands out. The Rev. Samuel Davies, sent by Presbyterians in Newcastle, New Jersey to Virginia, a large and powerful enclave of British power and culture, where, in a most unlikely set of circumstances, he would become the first non-Anglican to be licensed to preach in Virginia Colony. Davies became Polegreen’s first pastor. Not only was he successful in his mission, but …years later one of Davies’ early congregants, one Patrick Henry, said Davies taught him the art of powerful oratory. Henry’s famous “liberty or death” oration at St. Johns Church in nearby Richmond would become one of the most famous and effective calls to liberty in the New World.
It is to the history and this legacy that we invite your visits, your study, and your reflections on our story that it would not fade from our collective history.
Established in 1747, the Meeting House, as it was known in the 18th century, served an important role in the “Dissenter Movement” and the “Great Awakening,” ultimately leading to America's civil and religious liberties. With Patrick Henry in attendance, Rev. Samuel Davies articulated the principles of the American Revolution through his sermons delivered at Polegreen.
The original church structure met its demise during America's Civil War. Polegreen Church sat squarely in between as Generals Grant and Lee's armies confronted each other. In an effort to dislodge Union sharpshooters occupying the ground, Confederate artillery fired on the church, setting it ablaze.
The striking white silhouette structure designed by Carlton Abbott marks the site's original foundations and present a beautiful architectural backdrop for historical interpretation.
The smaller companion to the silhouette structure — known as the “Meeting house” — dates from 1747 and reflects the Colonial Government’s compromise with the growing number and popularity of so-called “dissenting” ministries.
Each year, hundreds of visitors — from school children and history buffs to educators and lifelong learners — take advantage of the tours, workshops, family events, and additional learning opportunities offered through historic Polegreen Church Foundation.
Guided tours and special event rentals are available. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (804) 730-3837 to learn more.