Virginia is the home of many unique and historic locations dating back to the humble beginnings of America. It is hard to travel to this area without finding something which does not date back historically to the fabric of America’s growth and evolution.
On a recent travel through the state I stumbled upon Mechanicsville, Virginia, a community I have never seen in a history book but which boasts a very unique historic site worth a stop off to capture, the Polegreen Church.
Unlike many churches you will find with hirstoric roots however, this church is known as the “ghost church” because of its unique current state of existence. While many churches stand in a state of rested decay, semi improvement or renovated fully, the Polegreen Church is but a skeleton of a church which originally came to be around 1743.
History states that Samuel Davies, one of the first non-Anglican ministers licensed in Virginia used this location as his base for worship between 1743 and 1759. Davis was known for penning many popular hymns, many of which are still used in churches of today. He also was an advocate of slave education and paved the way for many more to follow.
But perhaps one of the most little known facts is that Hanover County, Virginia is the home of the first stages in the fight for religious freedoms. The first legislative body in the world to adopt a statute of religious liberty was Virginia in 1786. The Polegreen Church was part of this movement toward this now universal freedom.
During the American Civil War battle lines were formed near the Polegreen Church and in 1864 Confederate artillery shells fired in an attempt to dislodge a Union sharpshooter and hit the church as a result. As a result of this altercation the Polegreen Church was burned to the ground and the congregation of the time were not able to rebuild due to strained finances.
To honor the historic church which had made such a mark in the forming of the communities around its structure, an open air design of steel beams was erected and painted on the footprint of the former structure. Alongside the structure signs were positioned to welcome visitors of all faiths to come and join together with no persecution.
In 1991, this location was added to the National Register of Historic Places. It is now the place of gatherings for not only the community but the state with many weddings, events and lectures being held on the grounds.
Only about 15 minutes outside of Richmond the site is one well worth the stop. There is a beauty and somewhat eerie feel to the skeletal appearance of the church as you walk within the footprint of such a historic location yet feel as though you are walking in art.
6411 Heatherwood Dr
Mechanicville, VA 23116