Little Fork Church is full of history - and love.
Gaylene Laimbeer, senior warden of the Vestry of Little Fork Church, recounted the historic church’s story during a recent visit - leading up to the Little Fork Day Sept. 21 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Little Fork Church, originally founded in 1730 and located at 16461 Oak Shade Road, Rixeyville, is a colonial masterpiece that has withstood the test of time. The building that stands now was constructed in 1776, and was placed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and on the National Register of Historic Places in 1969. Restored in 1976, the church keeps supplying historic finds - just two weeks ago, three new graves were found just outside the church - each three feet deep and possibly dating back to the Civil War.
“Our new rector (Stacy Williams-Duncan) would like to do some more historical, archaeological information about the church,” Laimbeer said.
The church now is home to 143 members, with Laimbeer saying about 40 or 50 regularly attend on Sundays. There’s also the 1776 Preservation Foundation that helps fund ongoing restoration work to the church - now brickwork is being done to “repoint” some of the aging mortar.
Walking into the historic church, the interior is as close to pristine as it was prior to the winter of 1863 - when the 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry was stationed in the area. Soldiers and horses were quartered in the church and the wood inside the church was torn out and used for firewood.
The Little Fork Rangers camped at the church as well.
“Not only is there a historical significance but it has a very unique feel,” Laimbeer said. “It’s a very unique structure. It’s very colonial.”
Box pews adorn the inside of the church, each painted a historically accurate “turkey blue,”
“The amount of research that went into the restoration is phenomenal,” Laimbeer said. “The fact that we don’t have stained glass window, in fact some of the glass is original.”
After the Union Army left, the church sat untouched - neglected until it was refurbished in 1976.
“Originally, it was going to be a museum,” Laimbeer said.
Now the church celebrates Little Fork Day as a way to introduce more community members to its history.
“This is one of our outreaches, to reach out to the community and we’re hoping people go ‘wow,’” Laimbeer said. “The hope is to bring the community in and maybe they’ll stick around.
“It’s rural, it’s not like people can’t walk to church like they do at St. Stephen’s,” Laimbeer said. “Honestly, not a lot of people know it’s here.”
A moon bounce obstacle course will be on hand on Sept. 21, reenactors in Colonial costumes will be on the property, tours of the church will be offered and food will be available for sale.
“A lot of people stop by because of the history,” Laimbeer said. “They stay because of what they find here.”