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Old Donation Episcopal Church

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1736. 1822–1824, renovation. 1913–1916, restoration and additions, James W. Lee. 1966, restoration, Milton Grigg with Oliver and Smith. 4449 N. Witchduck Rd.
  • Old Donation Episcopal Church (Richard Guy Wilson)

The unusual name of this colonial church stems from the donation of land to the parish by Reverend Robert Dickson, a former rector. Built in 1736, the present building is the third church of the Lynnhaven Parish, which was established before 1640. With several modifications, the eighteenth-century church served its parishioners through disestablishment and, following repairs in 1822–1824, until 1843, when it was abandoned. An 1882 fire gutted the structure, leaving only the Flemish bond brick walls standing. Popular interest in the ruined church grew steadily, and in the second decade of the twentieth century, it was restored to its present exterior appearance.

The plan of the church is a simple rectangle oriented west to east. The entrance has been altered by the addition of an enclosed porch and the southeast corner by a small sacristy, but the other walls and wall openings are original. The fenestration of the side walls is particularly interesting, for it reveals, in addition to the usual round-arched windows, odd-sized rectangular openings near the eaves that indicate the placement of long-vanished galleries. The heavily restored, early twentieth-century interior incorporates a reredos, an altar, a pulpit, a lectern, and a communion rail taken from St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Norfolk (see entry), then undergoing its own restoration. The interior was restored again in the 1960s when the current pews were installed.

Writing Credits

Richard Guy Wilson et al.


What's Nearby


Richard Guy Wilson et al., "Old Donation Episcopal Church", [Virginia Beach, 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, 452-453.

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