News Articles:

Article published in ‘The Historiographer’

April 20, 2012

Article on “Elk Run Church’s Past, Present and Future” was published by The Historiographer of The National Episcopal Historians and Archivists.

Mini-museum construction completed

September 8, 2010

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Museum and Park Impacted by Funding Shortfall

August 5, 2009

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Early Church Museum Nears Completion

June 14, 2009

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Elk Run project featured on Episcopal-Life.org

May 6, 2009

The Elk Run Project was featured in the Diocesan Digest section of www.episcopal-life.org. To view a PDF archived version of the article, click here.

    

Historic Church Seeks Support

April 24, 2009

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Great strides have been made at Elk Run!  Ten years ago, 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.

Our efforts have been richly rewarded.  Now we enter a final phase of the project, the remaining construction and dedication of the Mini-Museum that will capture the history of the Church and surrounding area.

Site work began in 1999 under the direction of a professional archaeologist; that work culminated in exposing the heretofore unknown stone foundation, laid down in the 1750s in the form of a Greek cross.

The southern Fauquier County church site is significant because it was the first brick Anglican Church established in what was the County’s early to mid-1700’s frontier area.

The Elk Run settlement and Church served as a government administrative and jumping off point for further expansion of what is now Fauquier County.

The Elk Run Anglican Church served as the mother church for Hamilton Parish in Fauquier County, and its first rector, the Rev. James Keith, was the grandfather of Chief Justice John Marshall.

Until now, the only recorded description of the church was made by Bishop Meade who, in 1857, wrote that it was “a substantial brick church, cruciform, I believe. I am not certain that the roof was on it when I first saw it in 1811. Its walls continued for many years after this and I saw them gradually disappear during my annual visits to the conventions.”

The Church fell into disuse sometime after 1803 as the younger population moved north and west to more profitable agricultural areas and other non-Anglican churches became established in the area.

The Elk Run Church is located about 15 miles southeast of Catlett, Virginia on State Route 806.

On completion of archaeological field work in October 2006, the foundation stones were covered with top soil to preserve them.

However, a small portion of the original foundation will be left open within the Mini-Museum for public viewing.  The Mini-Museum measures roughly 21ft x 21ft and will expose an eventual 6 ft x 6 ft portion of the old foundation.

The unique shape of the Mini-Museum will allow visitors to walk around the foundation unit and view pictures on its walls that will show the history of the surrounding area, the Church and its archaeological discovery captured in maps and photographs since 1999.

Numerous artifacts have come to light, including Indian arrowheads, handmade nails, ceramic fragments, early coins, brick and glass.  A burial ground was discovered adjacent to the Church.

The museum at this time is under roof, walls closed in, and windows installed.  The Elk Run Church Site volunteers are in critical need of additional funds to continue their work.

They need to install roof shingles, lay a small 2-foot-high portion of brick around the outside of the building, install electric and vinyl siding, finish an inside cement floor and cover the cost of design and framing of the history making information for the walls.

Citizens, organizations and businesses are asked to contribute in establishing, preserving and achieving this important Historic Church Park goal.

More information on efforts over the past ten years can be found at www.elkrunchurch.org.

    

Artifacts displayed in Bealeton

October 26, 2007

Fauquier times-Democrat (with permission) WEEKEND — lst Year, No. 43 – Friday, October 26, 2007 – Warrenton, Va.

An exhibit on the Elk Run Anglican Church Site preservation project in southern Fauquier County is currently on display at the Bealeton Library, 10877 Willow Drive North, (540) 439-9728.

The exhibit includes photos, a small case displaying some of the artifacts found at the site, and a 10-minute documentary, “Finding Our Foundation: The Preservation of the Elk Run Anglican Church Site.”

In the documentary, Ed Dandar, chairman of the Elk Run Church Site Preservation Committee, founded in 1999, and Jackie Lee, a volunteer historian, explain the history of the site.

The church began as a wooden structure in the 1740s and was later rebuilt in brick with a four-foot-wide stone foundation. The unearthed foundation revealed the church was built in the form of a Greek cross.

The church congregation declined after the Revolutionary War, and, once abandoned in the early 1800s, local villagers used its fallen bricks, wood and stones in the building of their homes. The site was overgrown until recently, and the church’s foundation and artifacts were hidden from view for about 200 years.

By the time the site’s historical marker was dedicated in 2000, colonial church historian Carl Lounsbury of the Williamsburg Foundation said, “I am deeply awed by all of you for creating history here.”

The documentary shows the church site being excavated by volunteers, many of whom have ancestral ties to the area. Under the direction of archaeologist John Eddins, himself a volunteer, teams have discovered many artifacts, including hand-wrought iron nails, earthenware, window glass, prehistoric arrow-heads and a prehistoric quartz scraper.

The committee is raising funds to convert the dig site to a historic church park. Plans include outlining the foundation with a colonial brick walk-way, building a year-round shelter for public viewing of a segment of the church foundation, and erecting interpretive signs.

Copies of “Finding Our Foundation” were donated to the library and to the county’s elementary schools. The library’s copy is available to check out. The committee also has an extensive Web site that includes historic maps, photos of the site and artifacts, and genealogical information.

            

Elk Run Church Historic Park Fund Drive

March 9, 2007

DISCOVER (with permission) Independently Owned and Operatedby Discover Publications
Your Business And Community in Action – March 2007

By Kathryn Gendreau

Fauquier County’s first Anglican church (built in the 1750s) was discovered in 1998 when a neighbor was clearing brush on the church site at Elk Run. Less than a year later, members of St Stephen’s Church in Catlett, St. James Church in Warrenton, and other Fauquier County volunteers began to uncover the remains of what was the first brick church of Fauquier’s frontier. In October 2006, the archaeological field work was completed entirely by volunteers. Their efforts (and 54 separate excavations) revealed that the church regarded as the founding Church of Hamilton Parish-had been a substantial building shaped like a Greek cross. Of further significance was the discovery of a cemetery adjacent to the original edifice. Elk Run’s first minister, Reverend James Keith, was the grandfather of Chief Justice John Marshall.

The goal for 2007 is to create a landscaped Historic Park at the Elk Run Church location. Plans include a colonial brick walkway tracing the original foundation, a protective shelter for all-weather viewing, a state historical marker, a parking area, benches, and interpretive signs for the church site, archeological excavation, and adjacent Elk Run Cemetery.

The Elk Run Church Site Preservation Committee is working hard to raise the needed funds to achieve the Historic Park goal. Please consider making a donation to help establish the park and preserve the remarkable treasure of Elk Run Church. Checks can be made payable to “Elk Run Church Site Preservation Fund” and sent in care of St Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 8538 Greenwich Road, Catlett, VA 20119.

For more information, call Edward Dandar, Jr. at 703-791-6158

    

Elk Run Church Strives for Historic Park Status

VIRGINIA EPISCOPALIAN (with permission) Publication of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia
March 2007 – Volume 116 – Number 2 — News of the Diocese

By Ed Dandar

The discovery of Fauquier County’s first Anglican Church, built in the 1750s, began in 1998 when a neighbor began clearing brush on the church site at Elk Run, Va. Less than a year later, members of St. Stephen’s, Catlett and St. James, Warrenton and county volunteers began to uncover the remains of what they soon discovered was the first brick church in Fauquier County’s mid-1700s frontier.

When they took possession of the site in 1999, it was simply a vacant lot with bits of old brick lying about. They had no knowledge or assurance that anything lay below the surface, nor could anyone be certain that the church was actually located there.

Eight years later in October 2006, all-volunteer archaeological field work was completed. Fifty-four separate excavations revealed a substantial brick building shaped like a Greek cross. It is regarded as the founding church of Hamilton Parish, Elk Run’s first minister was the Rev. James Keith (circa 17421751), grandfather of Chief Justice John Marshall.

The Elk Run Church Site Preservation Committee has begun work to convert the site to a Historic Park. Goals for 2007 include outlining the original foundation on the surface with Colonial-style bricks; building 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. Once completed, the Committee will apply for Virginia Landmark status and then the National Register of Historic Places, pending available funds.

How You Can Help

The Elk Run Church Site Preservation Committee is renewing its fundraising efforts to achieve its goal of becoming a historic park. Tax deductible contributions can be made payable to Elk Run Church Site Preservation Fund and sent in care of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 8538 Greenwich Road, Catlett, Virginia 20119. More information can be found online at www. elkrunchurch.org, or by contacting Ed Dandar by email at efdandar@us.net or telephone at 703-791-6158.

    

Historic Park Effort Needs Your Help

January 31, 2007

The Fauquier Times-Democrat, Wednesday, January 31, 2007 (with permission)

The discovery of Fauquier County’s first Anglican Church, built in the 1750s, began in 1998 when a neighbor began clearing brush on the Church site at Elk Run, Virginia. Less than a year later, members of St. Stephen’s Church in Catlett, St. James’ in Warrenton, and County volunteers began to uncover the remains of what was the first brick church in Fauquier County’s mid-1700s frontier.

When they took possession of the site in 1999, it was simply a vacant lot with bits of old brick lying about. They had no knowledge or assurance that anything lay below the surface, nor could anyone be certain that the church was actually located there.

Eight years later in October 2006, the all-volunteer archaeological field work was completed. It revealed through 54 separate excavations and discovery of numerous artifacts that the 1750s church was a substantial brick building shaped like a Greek cross. It is regarded as the founding Church of Hamilton Parish. Of further significance was the discovery of a cemetery adjacent to the original edifice. Elk Run’s first minister was the Rev. James Keith (circa 1742-1751), grandfather of Chief Justice John Marshall.

Work to convert the site to a Historic park has begun. Our goal in 2007 is the creation of a landscaped historical park that will include: (1) outlining the original foundation on the surface with Colonial-style bricks, (2) building a protective shelter over a corner of the foundation for year-round viewing, (3) placing archaeological and cemetery information interpretative signs for visitors, (4) installing split-rail fencing for cordoning the parking area, (5) placing benches for visitors to rest and meditate, and (6) planting shrubbery. Once completed, we will apply for Virginia Landmark status and then the National Register of Historic Places, pending available funds.

We are renewing our fundraising effort so as to achieve our Historic Park goal. We appeal to you for help in establishing and preserving this remarkable treasure. Financial donations and or materials for the Historic Park will be greatly appreciated. Every contribution is important. Checks may be made payable to “Elk Run Church Site Preservation Fund” and sent in care of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 8538 Greenwich Road, Catlett, Virginia 20119. Donations are tax deductible.

We send in advance our deep appreciation for your support in preserving Fauquier County’s heritage at Elk Run. Your contribution will help to secure the rightful place of Elk Run Church in the history of Colonial churches in Virginia.

Accompanying photos shows a top-down photo of the completed Elk Run Church archaeological dig and an artist rendering of what the completed Historic Park would look like when completed.

A timeline of significant events, photos, artifacts, cemetery findings, and future plans for the Elk Run Church Historic Park can be found on our new Web Site.

Further information can be obtained by contacting Ed Dandar by email efdandar@us.net or telephone (703-791-6158).