You are here

Albert's Chapel United Methodist Church

-A A +A
1903. 1990s. Northwest side of U.S. 33/119, .5 mile northeast of the intersection of U.S. 33/119 with Calhoun County 5/7 at Sand Ridge
  • (West Virginia Collection within the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)
  • Albert's Chapel United Methodist Church (State Historic Preservation Office, West Virginia Division of Culture and History)

Albert's Chapel is Calhoun County's chief claim to architectural fame, even though its rebuilding in the late 1990s did irreversible damage to the original fabric. The original octagonal form remains, but little of the original materials are now evident. Above horizontal wooden sills, the chapel was sheathed in board-and-batten siding, which has been replaced with artificial siding. The entrance, a double door with transom above, still centers one side, while other walls have single triangular-headed windows. In spite of new trim and sash, the windows still impart a country Gothic ambience. An overhanging pyramidal roof is capped with an octagonal, louvered belfry at the apex.

The Polin family sponsored and built the chapel. Brothers Asbury and Wesley furnished land and lumber, and Charles was the principal carpenter. As their names suggest, the church is Methodist, but it was another member of the Polin family, Albert, who was responsible for overseeing the work, and it is his name that the church honors.

The seemingly diminutive chapel can seat more than three hundred worshipers. Its capacity helps prove the theory propounded by Orson Squire Fowler, the nineteenth-century phrenologist who promoted octagonal forms because they enclosed more floor space than squares. Whether Fowler's doctrine actually influenced the Polins is unknown. The form nominating the church to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 notes that, according to several church members, the shape was chosen “so that the devil couldn't corner you in it.” After the much-loved area landmark became structurally unsound in the 1990s, it was entirely rebuilt.

Writing Credits

S. Allen Chambers Jr.


What's Nearby


S. Allen Chambers Jr., "Albert's Chapel United Methodist Church", [Arnoldsburg, West Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.

SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.