Hebron Presbyterian Church
Presbytery of Shenandoah
Presbyterian Church USA
The History of A Unique Country Church
Located in the Picturesque Shenandoah Valley
Hebron Presbyterian Church has provided spiritual leadership for many families in Augusta County from its founding in 1746 as a part of North Mountain Meeting House.
In 1736, William Beverly obtained a 118,491 acre grant from King George II through Lt. Governor Gooch and opened this part of the Valley to settlers by offering fertile land at low prices. Ulster Scots, coming by way of Pennsylvania and bringing with them their Presbyterian Heritage, took up tracts of this land.
North Mountain Meeting House, located nearby on the west side of Middlebrook Road (Rt 252), was established about 1740 under the leadership of the Rev. John Craig. In 1746, the Rev. John Blair came to North Mountain Meeting House and the congregation split into two groups. One group was led by Major John Brown, a large land-owner in the area now known as Hebron, and on his land a meeting house (assumed to be of logs) was built. On February 16, 1748, the Augusta County Court ruled that "On the motion of James Bell and others it is ordered that the Meeting House near John Browns be received as a place of worship." The Rev. Charles Cummings, who came in 1766, was the first full time pastor. During his pastorship, a stone meeting house was built. In March 1768, John and Margaret Brown deeded two acres containing this Stone Meeting House "late called by the name of Browns" to the church commissioners.
During this period in Virginia, the only legal church was the Anglican Church which accounts for Augusta County being organized as Augusta Parish. The Ulster Scots were determined to worship as they pleased and these Presbyterians called their places of worship "meeting houses" rather than churches. The Royal Governor accepted their ways and their religion in the Valley as they provided a buffer against the French and Indians.
The Rev. Archibald Scott was installed in December 1778 as pastor for Brown's Meeting House and North Mountain Meeting House, which in 1779 became Bethel. During the Revolutionary War, Archibald Scott organized a militia. General George Washington, hearing of their stand said, " If I should be beaten by the British Forces, I will retreat with my broken army to the Blue Ridge and call the boys of West Augusta around me and there I will plant the flag of my country." Annals of American Pulpit Rev. Scott was buried in the Old Hebron Cemetery.
The Church Buildings
There have been four church buildings, all built on the present site. William M. Tate, church historian of the early 1900's, gave the following description: "The first was of logs but when built I have no means of ascertaining. The next was of stone. As I remember it was narrow in proportion to its length, the pulpit on the north side octagonal in shape and entered through an opening at each side near the wall." Rosebro's History
In 1826, a rectangular brick church, which was then called Hebron, replaced the stone church. Again, Rosebro's History describes it as "a substantial brick building, rectangular in shape with gable of roof toward the south, and with two doors on the same end."
The church building burned in January, 1900 after a wedding. Following the fire, members of the congregation acted swiftly to draw up subscription papers (pledges) to raise the necessary funds to rebuild the church. Renowned architects, T. J. Collins & Son were hired to design a sanctuary to be built on the same site. Mr. Collins referred to his design as a "wooden cathedral." The new sanctuary was completed in 1901.
At the dedication, Pastor Holmes Rolston, stated that the total cost of rebuilding was $9,570 and that $5,750 had been paid. The balance of nearly $4,000 was reduced to just over $2,000 by the end of the day. Children handed in penny bags, ladies gave money raised at lawn parties and donors contributed over and above their pledges.
By the late 1940's, Hebron's Sunday School classes had outgrown the sanctuary. A new education building was needed. A fund drive was begun and construction started in September, 1950. Valley Construction Company built the building at a cost of $ 78,547.70. The building was completed and dedicated on October 14, 1951 and has been a large part of Hebron's ministry ever since.
In 1999, the church building was in need of some renovation and repair. The original slate roof was replaced with copper, the framework of all the windows in the sanctuary were reworked and protective coverings were placed on the stained glass windows. The old masonry joints were removed and new grout was installed. What a huge undertaking!
Also in 1999, the membership decided that the church's electronic organ needed to be replaced. A committee was formed to fully explore all poss-ibilities. They faced many challenges, such as would the new organ fit the architectural style of the sanctuary, would it be suitable for music and worship at Hebron, and would it fit in Hebron's financial plans?
In March 2001, the membership of Hebron accepted a proposal from Taylor & Boody Organbuilders to build a new pipe organ for the sanctuary of the church. Taylor & Boody have been neighbors of the church since 1979. The new organ was to be of simple mechanical construction for easy upkeep, and would fit beautifully in the architectural style of the sanctuary. The organ would consist of over 800 individual pipes and all parts of the organ would be designed and handcrafted in the Taylor & Boody workshop. A fund drive was begun to pay for the organ upon installation.
Starting in 2003, the interior of the sanctuary received a much needed renovation. The ceiling
was redone, the choir loft enlarged and the carpeting removed. The original hardwood floors were refinished and new carpet runners were installed in the aisles. The results were amazing!
In early 2006, installation of the new organ began. Hebron's members eagerly followed its progress. The installation was completed in the spring of 2006 and the organ was dedicated on May 07, 2006. The sound is incredible! What an amazing and worthwhile project in the history
of Hebron Presbyterian Church!
"The Unique Country Church"
There is a uniqueness in Hebron Presbyterian Church which is evidenced in its people. A continuity of family lines makes the rereading of old records and contemporary personal events startling, as generation after generation, the same surnames keep reappearing. Newcomers are welcomed, included and soon fully at home in the Christian fellowship of Hebron. A sprinkling of the first families remain, with many new additions, fully representing the current community surrounding Hebron.
The architecture of Hebron Presbyterian Church is also unique. The sanctuary has a sloping floor with the pulpit area on a broad side. A rose window, faceted with green stained glass and highlighted by a gently descending dove, rises high above the pulpit area. Stained glass windows are abundant in the sanctuary. Huge wooden columns, braced with carved beams, dominate the main seating area. The combination of height and openness suggest the feel of a wooden cathedral, transplanted from more ancient times. Architect T. J Collins' design is timeless.
In conclusion, Hebron Presbyterian Church has a long and storied history and heritage in western Augusta County. Today, the members continue to enjoy the architecture and surroundings as they worship the Lord their God.
Indeed, this is the Lord's House.
Note: For a more detailed account of Hebron's history, please refer to Hebron Presbyterian Church, 1746-1996, compiled in 1996 for the 250th anniversary of the Church.