While the great majority of Americans cherish the freedom to worship according to the dictates of one's conscience, it is likely that most know little of the events that secured that right. The first legislative body in the world to adopt a statute of religious liberty was Virginia in 1786. But, the struggle for religious toleration, and ultimately freedom, began four decades earlier in Hanover County, Virginia.
In 1990 the Presbytery of the James, successor to Hanover Presbytery which had been founded at Polegreen in 1755, authorized the creation of a non-profit foundation, ecumenical in nature, to preserve, enhance and interpret the site of Polegreen Church. The first objective of the foundation was to locate the remains of the colonial church. Archaeologists from Virginia Commonwealth University oversaw the effort, and the remains of the church's foundation were revealed. On the basis of the physical evidence of the church's location and the easily documented record of the important events related to the Hanover Dissenters and Samuel Davies, in 1991 the U.S. National Park Service listed the Polegreen site in the Register of National Historic Places.
|Historic Polegreen Church Site|
The Polegreen Foundation has been the grateful recipient of the advice and counsel of the staff of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Through them the services of internationally known architect Carlton Abbott were obtained. Abbott designed the present unique enhancement over the site of the ancient Polegreen Church. For the first time in 137 years there is something to see on the place which represents one of the great chapters of American history. With growing concern over urban sprawl, which had already begun to have an impact on the surroundings of the old church, the Foundation set out to acquire the view shed around the original site. To date nearly 110 acres have been preserved.
The Foundation welcomes you into its enlarging family. We hope you will be captivated by the preservation and interpretation of one of America's most important historic sites.
By 2018, the 275th Anniversary of the founding of Polegreen Church, the Foundation will be recognized for its leadership in the historic interpretation of civil and religious freedom in Colonial Virginia through preservation of the site, community outreach and educational programs.
To preserve the historic Polegreen Church site and commemorate the struggle for civil and religious freedom in Colonial Virginia by Rev. Samuel Davies and the Hanover Dissenters.
To what end: By accomplishing this mission, we preserve the memory of Hanover Dissenters who struggled courageously and successfully for civil and religious freedom in Virginia and in so doing increase appreciation for the liberties that we enjoy today in the United States.
Board of Directors
Dr. Robert Bluford, Jr President
F. Claiborne Johnston, Jr. Vice President and Secretary
David W. Fuller Treasurer
Robert Bluford, III
David B. Bradley
Robert B. Giles
Kenneth M. Perry
Jane W. Peters
G. Everett B. Reveley
Harry J. Warthen III
Tommy P. Baer
Richard E. Bartell
Dr. Virgie M. Binford
Dr. Charles F. Bryan, Jr.
Ivor Massey Jr.
Martha D. Newell
Sumpter T. Priddy, Jr.
W. Taylor Reveley, III
Rev. R. Jackson Sadler
Dr. James G. Somerville
Professor C. Jan Swearingen
Education Advisory Council
Dr. Mathias Bergman Professor of History -- Randolph-Macon College
Jenny Cote Historical Author -- Atlanta, Georgia
Mark Greenough Supervisor and Historian -- Virginia State Capitol
Jennifer Hurst-Wender Statewide Education Coordinator -- Preservation Virginia
June Lehman AP History Educator -- St. Catherine's School
Dr. Rob Williams Social Studies Lead Teacher Specialist at Hanover County Public Schools
Dr. Jamelle Wilson Superintendent of Institutional Leadership -- Hanover County Public Schools
Director of Operations
For general information or questions, please contact:
P.O. Box 2111
Mechanicsville, Virginia 23116
Historic Polegreen Church
The Historical Marker Database: Polegreen Church
National and State Resources
APVA Preservation Virginia
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
National Register of Historic Places
Presbyterian Heritage Center
Religious Liberty Texts
Road to Revolution Heritage Trail
The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, 16 January 1786
Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation
Virginia Department of Historic Resources
Road to Revolution State Heritage Trail Websites
Historic St. John's Church
Greater Richmond Tourism Association
Hanover County Historical Society
Hanover Historic Commission
Heritage and History of Hanover County
Richmond Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau