Monday, 13 October 2014

King William County's historic Lanesville Christadelphian Church

Pictures: Lanesville Christadelphian Church and Lester Manor Village

Tidewater-review and former King William County Historical Society (KWCHS) President Carl Fischer  expects the KWCHS to be deeded the King William County's historic Lanesville Christadelphian Church property sometime in the first quarter of 2015. The property is being donated by its current owner, Carroll Lee Walker, who also led the church's successful restoration effort.
 "We voted to accept the donation (of the Lanesville church)," Fischer said. "The building is very nice and we felt it should be preserved. We'll accept the title to the land — a third of an acre — that includes the church. We'll also receive a small contribution for upkeep."
The Lanesville church was restored in 2006 by Walker, a local man who has since 1969 taken on numerous restoration projects in the county. When Walker purchased the property, the church had fallen off of it's foundation and was in great need of renovation.

 Charles Edwards, great-grandson of the church's founder, had tried several avenues to restore the building as a historical landmark, but was ultimately unsuccessful. He eventually sold Walker the land and donated the contents of the property.
 "I knew he had done other buildings and I knew he had the connections to do it, so what did we have to lose,"
Edwards said of Walker.
 "We had to pass the torch onto someone who could do it (the restoration)."
The church's restoration took Walker and his crew only a few months to complete. Walker tried to keep the property as true to its original form as was possible — his team refinished the pulpit furniture and original pews — but also added a Sunday School building and two restroom houses that were originally not on the property.

The Lanesville Christadelphian Church was built in 1876 by Dr. Lemuel Edwards, a county physician and minister who treated soldiers during the Civil War. The church, which at one time had a congregation of 30 to 40, closed its doors in 1964 after dwindling down to seven members.

Edwards still lives on the family property located behind the church at the corner of Mt. Olive-Cohoke Road and Pocahontas Trail.
Edwards his great-grandfather, grandfather, and father all lead the church without pay. He said the King William denomination, which is the oldest body in the U.S., was unique because most Christadelphian congregations did not build churches and met in rented spaces of homes.

David Brown, current president of the KWCHS, said while the building's restoration is important to the Christiadelphian faith, it is likewise significant for residents of the county.
 "I think it's important for people to have these touchstones to remind them of their past,"
Brown said.
 "In a lot of Virginia's rural counties, more buildings are disappearing quickly."
Fischer said the KWCHS' goal is to ultimately have the Lanesville church added to the national registry of historical places.

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