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A linear village strung along U.S. 50, which runs though it, Upperville was laid out in 1797 by Joseph Carr along the Alexandria-Winchester Turnpike. The physical center of the Virginia hunt country, the town retains a quiet, reserved air, with a small commercial section at one end. Houses in a variety of styles are visible along the tree-lined road and beyond the neatly tended fields of the large estates, all of which are private, guarded, and protected by alarms. The major architectural interest is provided by Trinity Episcopal Church ( NP39.1) (1951–1960, Howard Page Cross), an amazing adaptation, constructed of sandstone from nearby Warrenton, of the twelfth- and thirteenth-century rural churches of the Champagne region of France. It was paid for by the town's best-known residents, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, who moved to the town in 1940. The New York architect designed several houses for the Mellons and other society figures. At a time when modernism rode high, Cross continued to design in traditional idioms. The highlight of the complex is the church interior, with its hammerbeam roof and fittings. Its quality demonstrates that ecclesiastical arts and crafts survived into the 1950s. Heinz Warnaco, who worked on the National Cathedral in Washington, carved the column capitals; the pew ends, each of which contains portrayals of plants native to the countryside; and the pulpit. The wrought ironwork came from the shop of P. A. Fiebiger, of New York. The windows in the nave and choir were made by Joe Nicholas in Amsterdam, Holland; those in the north transept are by Willet of Philadelphia; and those in the south transept came from an earlier church that occupied the site. Cross also designed the adjoining parish house and rectory, which are appropriately vernacular forms of Georgian idioms mixed with a little of rural France. The entire ensemble is remarkable and deserves to be better known.

Writing Credits

Richard Guy Wilson et al.


What's Nearby


Richard Guy Wilson et al., "Upperville", [Warrenton, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Virginia: Tidewater and Piedmont, Richard Guy Wilson and contributors. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002, 112-113.

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