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Waddell Memorial Presbyterian Church
Photograph courtesy of Scenic America: Deborah L. Myerson

Built in 1874, Wadell Memorial Presbyterian Church is Virginia's finest specimen of Carpenter's Gothic architecture. A forest of spires sprouts from the nave, transepts, and vestry of the board-and-batten structure. All of the details are formed from milled boards reduced by sawing to the desired shapes and nailed together. The country church was named in honor of James Waddell, a local blind preacher and key player in the battle for religious tolerance during Colonial times. J. B. Danforth, an amateur architect who also was chief clerk at Richmond's Mutual Assurance Society, designed the church. A tracing of Danforth's drawings by the Richmond carpenter-architect John Gibson, who

Spires of Waddell Memorial Presbyterian Church
Photograph courtesy of Scenic America: Deborah L. Myerson
presumably worked on the building, is in the possession of the church. The design called for a steeple that was deleted from the finished work. The church is romantically sited on a hill overlooking the Rapidan River and broad stretches of countryside.

In 1998, the small 40-member congregation began a preservation effort to restore the church, replacing louvers, rebuilding numerous spires, removing old layers of paint and repainting the exterior. They are now in the process of a second round of fundraising to restore the church sanctuary.

Waddell Memorial Presbyterian Church is located southeast of Rapidan on State Rte. 615. The Sanctuary is open to the public during daylight hours; the back of the church, where the offices are located, is not. Call 540-672-0672 for further information.


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