Elk Run Church Historic Site
Past, Present and Future
Great strides have been made at Elk Run! In 1999, we embarked on an archaeological quest to discover, and then uncover, the foundation and remains of the 1750s Anglican Church at Elk Run – the first such church in Fauquier County, Virginia. A total of 129 volunteers provided over 5,803 hours of service between 1999 and 2006.
Conversion of the archaeological site to a Historical Church Park started in November 2006. The construction of a Mini-Museum over an excavated segment of the old Church foundation was completed in August 2010. A Dedication Ceremony for the new Mini-Museum building was held on November 14, 2010, and a short church service was held within the outline of the old Church foundation for the first time in over 200 years. About 1,631 volunteer hours of service was provided from late 2006 until the end of 2010 to complete the construction of the Museum and related supporting activities.
The Museum’s goal is to depict the history of the area (Native Americans and settlers), the Church and its first Minister, Rev. James Keith, grandfather of Chief Justice John Marshall. The Mini-Museum will also cover the seven year archaeological effort, and its conversion to a Historic Church Park.
The adjacent Elk Run Church Cemetery had changed owners over the years but on November 20, 2011, William C. Patton, Jacqueline E. Patton and Christina A. Patton graciously donated the property to St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church so that it could become part of the Elk Run Historic Church Park and held in perpetuity. The acquisition of this approximate 100 ft. by 100 ft. Cemetery property adds to the historical significance of the Elk Run Church Site. Another key objective for 2011 was the preparation of a new Cemetery Interpretative Sign summarizing its discovery which was also unveiled on 20 November.
In 2012, used glass display cases were obtained for the Museum. They were modified, painted and artifacts and photos placed within them.
Our goal for the future is to seek donations from individuals, organizations and businesses to achieve the remaining objectives of completing the Archaeological Interpretative Sign ($1,500), Museum wall historic items (about $5,000), a future video documentary update ($2,500) and outline the 1750s Church foundation with a brick walkway ($15,000). The current video documentary is being used in Fauquier schools and is available in County libraries. Donors can have their names or organizations affixed to specific items at the site or in the Museum.
Our efforts have been richly rewarded but we now enter a final phase of the project that needs Community support to preserve this site for future generations. Your financial gift will help us reach and secure the rightful place of Elk Run Church in the history of Colonial churches in Virginia. Checks may be made payable to “Elk Run Church Site Preservation Fund” and can be sent in care of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 8538 Greenwich Road, Catlett, VA 20119. All donations are tax deductible.
We send in advance our deep appreciation for whatever you can provide in preserving the heritage of Elk Run Church.
Elk Run Anglican Church
Site Preservation & Historic Park
Join us on an exciting project of historical significance! We are exploring 250-year-old property in Fauquier County, Virginia – the first Anglican Church in the county!
It all began in 1998, when a neighbor, tired of trash and debris next door, started clearing the brush off an abandoned plot of land. Less than a year later, Fauquier County’s mid-1700s frontier church emerged, one brick at a time. To learn more about how the project developed, click here.
We are awed by what is being revealed at Elk Run. When we took possession of the site in 1999, it was simply a vacant lot with bits of old brick lying about. We had no knowledge or assurance that anything lay below the surface, nor could we be certain that the church was actually located there.
— Edward F. Dandar Jr., Chairman, Preservation Committee
The church, built in the 1750s, is the first brick church in Fauquier County and uniquely laid-out as a Greek cross, with all side extensions roughly the same size. This floor-plan is also visible in Aquia and Abingdon, where two other pre-Revolutionary Anglican churches exist. To learn more about the history of the church, click here.
A preservation committee led by St. Stephen’s Church in Catlett, in collaboration with St. James’ Church in Warrenton, is working to achieve the dream of Mr. Edward Parry Browning III, who deeded the 100-foot square lot to St. Stephen’s in June 1999. Sadly, Mr. Browning died only 2 months after the deed, but his dream will still become a reality. To learn more about Mr. Edward Parry Browning III, click here.
The whole project has seven parts:
- Survey the site (which was completed in mid-1999)
- Conduct research (which is ongoing)
- Establish a parking area (which was completed on November 10, 1999)
- Erect a Virginia historic marker (which was completed on October 21, 2000 with a ceremony on the Church Site, along with the installation of the first Interpretative Sign on the Elk Run Village.)
- Excavate the church foundation (Archaeology Volunteers have uncovered the entire Greek-cross foundation structure and have explored the area within the foundation through a total of 54 excavations. Archaeological fieldwork was completed on October 1, 2006.)
- Convert the “Dig site” to a Historic Park through landscaping by:
- Outlining the original foundation on the surface with Colonial-style bricks,
- Building a protective shelter over a corner of the foundation for year-round viewing,
- Placing archaeological and cemetery information interpretative signs for visitors,
- Installing split-rail fencing for cordoning the parking area,
- Placing benches for visitors to rest and meditate, and
- Planting shrubbery.
- Publish a booklet on the village of Elk Run and the first church (the research is ongoing; a draft Table of Contents has been developed)
The archeological work is lead by one professional archeologist Dr. John Eddins and consists of amateur diggers from the area – all volunteering their time to work on this project. Between April 2000 and June 2002, 34 controlled excavation unites were dug, revealing the whole church foundation and many artifacts. To learn more about the archeological work, click here.
Belief that a cemetery existed in the land next-door was confirmed in December 2000, when the first grave was discovered. Since then, Pete Petrone came to Elk Run and conducted remote sensing to determine the cemetery boundaries, possible positions of burials within the cemetery, and areas that might have further archaeological significance. To learn more about the cemetery, click here.
Be sure to explore the rest of the site to learn all about the Elk Run Church and the Elk Run village. Plus, the project always needs more help! To learn more about the volunteers and how you can help, click here.
Our Goal is to preserve the 1750s Elk Run Anglican Church site and its history so future generations will have knowledge of its past and an appreciation of our forefathers’ contributions to the settlement of Fauquier County.