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Frontview of Mitchells Presbyterian Church
Photograph courtesy of Scenic America: Deborah L. Myerson

This simple Carpenter's Gothic church contains the most elaborate example of late 19th-century, folk-style trompe l'oeil frescoes in the state. Executed in the 1890s, or possibly earlier, by the Italian immigrant painter Joseph Dominick Phillip Oddenino, born in 1831 in Chieri, Torino, the artwork is a curious transplant in rural Virginia of the ancient art of fresco, a common form of interior embellishment throughout Europe. The scheme is architectonic, consisting of a Gothic arcade on the side walls and an apse flanked by pairs of twisted baroque columns. The ceiling is painted to resemble beams framing rosettes. Mitchells Church was built in 1879 under the leadership of the Rev. John


Mitchells Presbyterian Church and Cemetery
Photograph from National Register collection, courtesy of Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission
P. Strider. The frescoes, along with the church, underwent complete restoration beginning in 1979. Several other examples of Oddenino's work remain in the region; Mitchell's Church is the finest and most complete.


Mitchells Presbyterian Church is located off Rte. 652 in the small settlement of Mitchells. It is not regularly open to the public, call 540-825-1079 for further information.



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