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Christiansburg Presbyterian Church and Manse

1853 & 1876 (107-111 West Main Street)

The Presbyterian Church is the oldest continually active church in Christiansburg, dating to 1853. James E. Crush, along with James and Samuel Hickok, constructed the Greek Revival structure, referring to the design handbooks of influential Boston architect Asher Benjamin. Crush and his carpenters were from Fincastle, Botetourt County, where several similar churches survive. The Christiansburg Presbyterian Church steeple was restored for the first time in 1995. One interesting feature of this antebellum church is the outside entrance to a gallery, built, it is thought, to allow slaves to attend services while remaining separate from the free congregation. There is no way to access the gallery from inside the church. The additions behind and to the right of the church date to 1906 and 1927, respectively.

Next door to the church on the left is the Presbyterian Church Manse, also known as the Kinnaird-Smith Building, after two past ministers: Dr. Robert L. Kinnaird and Dr. Cothran G. Smith. Completed in 1876, this building served as the residence for Christiansburg’s Presbyterian ministers until 1969. It replaced the Pepper House, today the Montgomery Museum on South Pepper Street, which was the original Presbyterian manse. Both the current church and the original manse on Pepper Street owe their existence to Reverend Nicholas Chevalier, pastor from 1839-1856. Originally from Connecticut, Chevalier studied at the Princeton Theological Seminary before coming to Christianburg to minister to the town’s Presbyterian population. In 1855, he commissioned Edward Beyer to paint a view of Christiansburg that now resides at the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond. Reverend Chevalier was also the brother-in-law of Confederate cavalry general J. E. B. Stuart, having married Stuart’s sister Bertha.

 

Lewis Miller's Presbyterian Church

Lewis Miller sketch of the Presbyterian Church shortly after construction.

 

Presbyterian Church & Manse

The Presbyterian Church and manse, c. 1913.
(photos courtesy of the D. D. Lester Collection)

 

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