St. Paul’s Protestant Episcopal Church is in Georgetown, Delaware. This Victorian Gothic brick church dates from the 1840s with a significant remodel in in the early1880s. The cemetery includes the graves of several Delaware governors, U.S. Senators and generals. The historical marker includes the following-
Incorporated on June 21, 1794, St. Paul’s P.E. Church is the oldest organized church in Georgetown. Prior to completion of the first church building, services were held in the Sussex County Courthouse. In 1805, a special lottery sanctioned by the State General Assembly raised $1,500 for construction of the first church. During the early 1840’s, a brick structure replaced the original frame church. In 1880-81, the church was remodeled in the early Victorian Gothic style – the plans being attributed to McKim, Meade, and White, a New York architectural firm distinguished for planning a number of famous churches. St. Paul’s P.E. Church was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
Indian Mission Church is in the Delaware countryside in the Nanticoke Indian Community. Built in the early 20th century, the Indian families separated into their own church after nearby Harmony Church hired a black minister. From the historical marker by the church-
In 1881 the Nanticoke Indian people constructed this church to provide a place to join for religious devotions. Known as “Johnson’s Chapel,” the church was affiliated with the Methodist Protestant denomination. On March 27, 1884, the land upon which the church had been built was conveyed by Jesse E. and Elizabeth Joseph to Trustees Samuel B. Norwood, Whittington Johnson, David P. Street, James H. Clark, Elisha Wright, William A. Johnson, and John W. Harmon. The church was formally incorporated on May 23, 1915. In 1921 a new building was constructed and named Indian Mission M.P. Church. The Nanticoke people continue to hold their religious services here, and the church continues to provide cohesiveness for the Nanticoke to retain their Native heritage and culture. The oldest marked grave is that of Ann Johnson, who died October 7, 1885. Indian Mission United Methodist Church was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on April 26, 1979.
Harmony Methodist is another church listed on the National Register of Historic Places though not quite as old. It’s in Sussex County, Delaware and from the historical marker below-
This congregation was organized in 1818 by members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. On March 20, 1819, trustees Purnal Johnson, Burton Johnson, William Hanzor, John Cornish, and Mitchell Johnson, purchased one half acre of land in Indian River Hundred on which to erect a Meeting House. Under the leadership of Reverend Thomas H Johnson, the church was officially incorporated as Harmony Methodist Episcopal Church on April 21, 1875. A new house of worship was erected in 1891 on land adjacent to Harmony Cemetery. The cemetery lot was formally purchase from William T. Hurdle on June 4, 1915. A wooded area near the church was used for outdoor services, then known as “bush meetings.” On February 13, 1939, a new church site was purchase from Oscar W. and Winona J. Wright by trustees Harvey W. Burton, Wilbur Harmon, Charles Davis, Samuel H, Jackson, Albert Lee Hall, Horace E. Wright, LeRoy Shelton, John W Thompson, and Dorsey E. Johnson. Construction of the present Harmony United Methodist Church began in 1940. The cornerstone was laid on September 13, 1942, and the opening service was held on April 18, 1943.
I was driving through Smyrna, Delaware and spotted First Presbyterian Church and stopped for a quick photo. The green sandstone building is English Gothic in style and was built in 1884. It was tough to get a good angle without power lines, so this was about the best I could do.
St. John the Baptist Catholic church is in Newark, Delaware and was consecrated in 1883. Some history excerpted from the church’s website-
The first Catholics to settle in the area were Irish immigrants who were ministered to by the priests from Old Bohemia Mission (Maryland) until Delaware was made part of the Philadelphia Diocese. Priests from New Castle then took on the responsibility of visiting Catholic laborers in the Iron Hill mines and those involved later in railroad construction.
In 1866, Father William Blake, Pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish (Elkton, Maryland), began celebrating monthly Mass in various homes. On the other Sundays of the month, many people traveled the six miles to Elkton by horse or on foot. However, when the railroad was completed, worshipers made the journey by railroad handcar.
In 1868, a local Catholic, Charles A. Murphy, approached the trustees of the First Presbyterian Church about their property at the corner of Main and Chapel Streets. On July 31, Murphy purchased the wood frame structure and offered it to the Elkton parish as a mission church. The church was named “St. Patrick’s” and Murphy transferred the title to the church for the sum of one dollar.
At that time, St. Patrick’s was only one of 15 churches in the young Diocese of Wilmington. Bishop Becker, the first Bishop of the Diocese, described his churches, the Newark St. Patrick’s among them, in the following manner: “They were all small buildings, old and poverty-stricken.”
In 1876, a modest frame house was erected just behind the church to provide overnight quarters for the clergy coming to Newark. In 1880, the floor of St. Patrick’s mission church collapsed during the Christmas Midnight Mass. Father Lyons decided to build a new church, which was constructed on the same site. Upon completion, the church was renamed St. John the Baptist, in honor of the patron saint of the pastor, Father John Lyons.
It was not until the 1940s that large numbers of people moved into the Newark area. Father Eugene J. Kraemer became pastor and undertook a major renovation of the church from 1946-1947
On May 7, 1982, St. John the Baptist Church was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The parish celebrated the centennial of the church on November 20, 1983.
Marshallton Methodist is in New Castle County, Delaware and was built in 1886 and is considered Carpenter Gothic. It was named after the founder (John Marshall) of a mill in the area when it was a farming community. Parts of the building were added later, including an addition in 1922 as the village grew. The interior was renovated in 1985. It’s included on the National Register of Historic Places, so instead of repeating that history, I’ve included the nomination form below if you’re interested in learning more.
Cokesbury Church iwas the last church I stopped at in Onancock, Virginia. From the National Register of Historic Places application-
“The oldest church building appears to be Cokesbury Methodist Church at 15 Market Street. A simple, rectangular, gable-fronted, frame and weatherboard building constructed in 1854, the church was remodeled in 1894 and a central front entrance tower with spire (later replaced with a louvered belfry and pyramidal hipped roof) was added. The building is situated on a raised masonry basement and features tall rectangular stained-glass windows with symmetrically molded trim and bull’s-eye corner blocks. A small cemetery is located west of the church.“
And from the Virginia state version-
Cokesbury Church, one of two of the oldest surviving Methodist churches on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, and known historically as Cokesbury Methodist Episcopal Church, stands adjacent to the town square of Onancock. It is elevated on a raised, stuccoed brick foundation, and clad in plain weatherboard. Erected in 1854–55, the Greek Revival temple-front frame church, enlarged in 1866 with a Gothic Revival entrance and bell tower with spire, was also significantly remodeled in 1892–94. On the interior, the main sanctuary combines architectural finishes dating from the original construction as well as from the remodeling. Greek Revival corner-block surrounds frame the leaded-glass windows, and the trim is covered with a graining layer that dates to the late 19th century. Beaded tongue-and-groove boards, also with graining, compose the wainscoting and the ceiling, from which still-functional, late-19th-century light fixtures hang. The church is fitted with late Victorian pews, and the altar furniture is situated atop a raised platform that is accented with a turned-baluster railing. A cemetery containing marble tombstones surrounds the church on the north and west sides, and a modern black metal fence encloses the churchyard.
The third church that I stopped at in Onancock, Virginia was the Baptist church. It is a blend of an older church built in 1855 with major additions in 1891, including the Victorian Gothic front shown above with a gabled-front and square corner bell tower. It’s located at 60 Market Street.
A second church in Onancock, Virginia referenced in the last post is Naomi Makemie Presbyterian. This Gothic-Revival building was completed in 1895 and features a corner entrance tower and tall octagonal spire. The church is now named after an early Scottish pioneer to the area whose history is included in the attached PDF document.
I drove into Onancock, Virginia heading to one particular historic church and was surprised to drive past several more lining Market Street. Onancock was founded in 1680 and was a thriving port for Virginia’s Eastern Shore since the late 17th century. The small town now has a population of about 1,700 and its historic district contains a rich variety of architectural styles spanning 200 years. Five 19th-century churches, including the Methodist church pictured above, are found close together on Market Street. An excerpt from the National Register form attached below describes this church in a paragraph:
In 1882 the Market Street Methodist Church was constructed at 75 Market Street. Originally a Carpenter Gothic style structure with corner buttresses topped by pinnacles, and a louvered belfry with a truncated roof, the church was heavily remodeled in the Victorian Gothic style in 1898. Based on the designs of Baltimore architect Benjamin B. Owens, the church’s exterior appearance was greatly altered with the addition of large and small pointed-arched stained-glass windows, a tall square entrance tower at the western corner, a small unusual octagonal tower at the eastern corner, and gabled entrance porches adorned with trefoil cutouts. In addition, the exterior walls were completely clad in wood shingles, giving the church a Shingle-style appearance.
I’ll be adding the other churches over the next several days.