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St. Clara Churches

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1880s. Both sides of Doddridge County 66, .4 mile west of the Gamsjager-Wysong Farm

The soul and spirit of the community of St. Clara reside here. Two frame churches stand on opposite sides of a country road, almost, but not quite, within sight of each other. Approaching from the east, on the south side of the road is St. Johannes Lutheran, or, as the sign above the entrance informs: “Ev. Lutherische St. Johannes Kirche.” Built in 1888, it is a simple rectangular building fronted by a three-stage tower with a belfry. The four-bay sanctuary behind has regularly spaced, double-sash windows. A newer Sunday School wing is attached to the west.

The similarly designed and scaled St. Clare Catholic Church stands farther along the country road, on the north side, beyond an intervening hill. The parish was established in 1875, and the building dates from 1881. Like its Lutheran neighbor, the Catholic church is fronted with a three-stage tower, here topped with a Celtic cross. The five-bay side walls have tall lancet windows, giving the church a country Gothic spirit.

St. Clare Church is wedged into the side of a steep hill on which the cemetery is located. At its high eastern edge, a larger-than-life cast iron Calvary, now bronzed, demarcates the line between the cemetery clearing and a wooded hill beyond. Plaques affixed to the base note that it was cast in France by the Union Artistique. This strong religious presence poignantly evokes what St. Clara once was.

Writing Credits

S. Allen Chambers Jr.


What's Nearby


S. Allen Chambers Jr., "St. Clara Churches", [Alum Bridge, West Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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