Briery Church, Prince Edward County

Virginia Historical Highway Marker F75, Old Briery Church.

OLD BRIERY CHURCH

Just to the north stands Briery Church, organized in 1755 following the missionary work of Presbyterian minister Samuel Davies. The first church was built about 1760 and was replaced in 1824. The present gothic revival church was built about 1855 to designs of Robert Lewis Dabney.

Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission, 1971

Briery Church (credit: Virginia Department of Historic Resources).

Briery Church is a one-story, board-and-batten-covered frame structure built on a T-shaped plan. Emphasizing the vertical lines of the church are the steep gable roof, with overhanging eaves, the three cross gables on the south front, and the simple finials on each gable end. All the openings are in the form of lancet arches, the windows having diamond panes and the four entrances on the west, south, and east fronts being sheltered by small gable canopy porches with barge boarding in the form of simple curving strips of wood. The building rests on a masonry foundation (probably brick) covered with stucco.

Briery Church, Keysville vic., Prince Edward County, Virginia, c. 1930-1939, Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952.
Briery Church, Keysville vic., Prince Edward County, Virginia, c. 1930-1939, Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952.
Briery Church, Keysville vic., Prince Edward County, Virginia, c. 1930-1939, Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952.
Briery Church, Keysville vic., Prince Edward County, Virginia, c. 1930-1939, Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952.
Briery Church (CC image, photographer David Hoffman, Flickr).
Briery Church (CC image, photographer David Hoffman, Flickr).
Briery Church (CC image, photographer David Hoffman, Flickr).
Briery Church (CC image, photographer David Hoffman, Flickr).
Briery Church (CC image, photographer David Hoffman, Flickr).
Briery Church (CC image, photographer David Hoffman, Flickr).
Briery Church (CC image, photographer David Hoffman, Flickr).
View of pulpit, Briery Church.

On the interior, plain pews on either side of a central aisle face the pulpit from each of the three wings of the ‘T.’ The long pine pulpit has lancet-arched recessed panels with a row of pendants hanging from the top. The pine ceiling begins at the eaves line and follows the interior pitch of the roof up for several feet before curving into a horizontal level which combines with the vertical pine uprights at the corners and the ‘ribs’ to create the effect of vaulting.

View of sanctuary, Briery Church.
View of nave, Briery Church.

Organized in 1755 following the missionary work of the ‘New Light’ evangelist Samuel Davies, the first church was erected about 1760, probably following the issuance of permission to worship by the Prince Edward County Court to the Briery congregation. The original meeting house was replaced in 1824, and the third and present Briery Church on the site was constructed circa 1855. This Gothic Revival church was designed by the noted theologian, Rev. Robert Lewis Dabney (1820-1898), a professor of theology at Union Theological Seminary, then a part of Hampden-Sydney College, and author of a biography of ‘Stonewall’ Jackson for whom Major Dabney had served as Chief of Staff in 1862. Dabney was also the architect for three other churches, Tinkling Spring Church in Augusta County, Farmville Presbyterian Church, and College Church at Hampden-Sydney, all of which are constructed of brick and are in the Greek Revival style, making Briery Church all the more unusual.

Briery Church remains today as a symbol of the perseverance of Presbyterianism in Virginia and houses a congregation formed over two hundred years ago. It is significant as an architectural composition utilizing the vertical lines of the board and batten walls with the picturesque exaggeration of the roofline. Placed in its forest setting of tall pines, this small white structure expresses the essence of mid-19th Century romanticism.

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Breadalbane Mausoleum c. 1880

J. V. Royaume-Uni, Breadalbane Mausoleum, Finlarig Castle, c. 1880; albumen print, 19 cm x 29 cm.
Ruins of the Breadalbane Mausoleum, Finlarig Castle.
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Bruce’s Siege of Dunstaffnage

Ground plan of Dunstaffnage Castle, from MacGibbon, David, The Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland, Vol. I, Edinburgh: D. Douglas, 1887.

Courtyard of Dunstaffnage Castle, from MacGibbon, David, The Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland, Vol. I, Edinburgh: D. Douglas, 1887.
West elevation of Dunstaffnage Castle, from MacGibbon, David, The Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland, Vol. I, Edinburgh: D. Douglas, 1887.
Plan of battlements of Dunstaffnage Castle, from MacGibbon, David, The Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland, Vol. I, Edinburgh: D. Douglas, 1887.

De conflictu regis Roberti contra Ergadienses

Eodem anno [1308] infra octavas Ascencionis beatae Virginis Mariae idem rex Ergadiensis devicit in medio Ergadiae et totam terram sibi subegit, ducem eorum nomine Alexandrum de Argadia fugientem ad castrum de Dunstafinch per aliquod tempus inibi obsedit, qui eidem regi Castrum reddidit et sibi homagium facere recusans, dato salvo conductu sibi et omnibus secum recedere volentibus in Angliam fugit et ibidem debitum naturae persolvit.

John of Fordun, Chronica Gentis Scotorum, cxxvi.

The king that stout wes stark and bauld
Till Dunstaffynch rycht sturdely
A sege set and besily
Assaylit the castell it to get,
And in schort tym he has thaim set
In swilk thrang that tharin war than
That magre tharis he it wan,
And ane gud wardane tharin set
And betaucht hym bath men and met
Sua that he lang tyme thar mycht be
Magre thaim all off that countre.

John Barbour, The Brus, x. 112-122.

Egyptian Building

Egyptian Building, Richmond, Virginia.
Egyptian Building, north-west (front) elevation.
Egyptian Building, from College Street, south-east (rear) elevation.
Cover of Sunday Magazine section of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, 19 July 1936, depicting the Egyptian Building.

Designed by noted Greek Revival architect Thomas S. Stewart of Philadelphia, the Egyptian Building is one of the finest examples of the rare “Egyptian Revival” style. The building was the first permanent home of the Medical Department of Hampden-Sydney College, which later became the Medical College of Virginia. The Egyptian Building has been in continuous use since its construction in 1845 and remains the oldest medical college building in the South. While the interior has since been extensively altered to accommodate administrative office space (with the notable exception of the 1930s lobby and ground floor lecture hall), the monumental exterior is extremely well preserved. The building once housed lecture rooms, a dissecting room, an infirmary, and hospital beds for medical and surgical cases.

Entrance to Egyptian Building, Richmond, Virginia.

In 1939, Richmond architects Baskervill & Son oversaw extensive restoration of the exterior of the building. Bernard Baruch, a wealthy industrialist, financed the restoration in memory of his father Dr. Simon Baruch, an 1862 graduate of the Medical College of Virginia and a Confederate surgeon in the War Between the States. The 270-seat Baruch Auditorium on the first floor dates to this renovation and is still in use. The restoration included remodeling the interior of the building to follow the Egyptian style. None of the original interiors survived.

Egyptian Building, detail of column capitals.
Egyptian Building, detail of east portico.
Egyptian Building, c. 1920s-1930s, with students or recent graduates?
Egyptian Building, prior to removal of ivy during 1939 restoration.

Detail of cast iron fence, with herm or mummy posts, by R. W. Barnes of Richmond.

What old Nassau Hall is to Princeton, what the Wren Building is to William and Mary, what the Rotunda is to the University of Virginia, the Egyptian Building is to the Medical College of Virginia. It is a shrine, a sanctuary of tradition, the physical embodiment of our genius. It is a spiritual heritage. In a world often accused of cold materialism, with an ideology of human self-sufficiency, and an adoration of objects that can be handled and seen, there is a need for things of the spirit, if science is to do more than make life safer, longer and more comfortable.

Dr. Wyndham Blanton at Founders’ Day exercises held at the Egyptian Building, 5 December 1940.

Not an House but a Village

View of the University of Virginia in Henry Howe, Historical Collections of Virginia, Charleston: Babcock, 1852.
View of the University of Virginia in Henry Howe, Historical Collections of Virginia, Charleston: Babcock, 1852.

Large houses are always ugly, inconvenient, exposed to the accident of fire, and bad in cases of infection. A plain small house for the school & lodging of each professor is best. These connected by covered ways out of which the rooms of the students should open would be best. These may then be built only as they shall be wanting. In fact, an University should not be an house but a village.

Thos. Jefferson to Littleton Waller Tazewell, 5 January 1805.

The Sacred Wreck

An isometric drawing of monastery buildings restored by the Iona Community by the architect, Ian Gordon Lindsay. The restoration was completed in 1965.
An isometric drawing of monastery buildings restored by the Iona Community by the architect, Ian Gordon Lindsay. The restoration was completed in 1965.

XXX. IONA.

ON to Iona!—What can she afford
To us save matter for a thoughtful sigh,
Heaved over ruin with stability
In urgent contrast? To diffuse the Word
(Thy paramount, mighty Nature! and time’s Lord)
Her temples rose, mid pagan gloom; but why,
Even for a moment, has our verse deplored
Their wrongs, since they fulfilled their destiny?
And when, subjected to a common doom
Of mutability, those far-famed piles
Shall disappear from both the sister isles,
Iona’s saints, forgetting not past days,
Garlands shall wear of amaranthine bloom,
While heaven’s vast sea of voices chants their praise.

XXXI. IONA.

(Upon Landing)

HOW sad a welcome! To each voyager
Some ragged child holds up for sale a store
Of wave-worn pebbles, pleading on the shore
Where once came monk and nun with gentle stir,
Blessings to give, news ask, or suit prefer.
Yet is yon neat, trim church a grateful speck
Of novelty amid the sacred wreck
Strewn far and wide. Think, proud philosopher!
Fallen though she be, this glory of the west,
Still on her sons the beams of mercy shine;
And hopes, perhaps more heavenly bright than thine,
A grace by thee unsought and unpossest,
A faith more fixed, a rapture more divine,
Shall gild their passage to eternal rest.

XXXII. THE BLACK STONES OF IONA.

[See Martin’s Voyage among the Western Isles.]

Here on their knees men swore: the stones were black,
Black in the People’s minds and words, yet they
Were at that time, as now, in colour grey.
But what is colour, if upon the rack
Of conscience souls are placed by deeds that lack
Concord with oaths? What differ night and day
Then, when before the Perjured on his way
Hell opens, and the heavens in vengeance crack
Above his head uplifted in vain prayer
To Saint, or Fiend, or to the Godhead whom
He had insulted–Peasant, King, or Thane?
Fly where the culprit may, guilt meets a doom;
And, from invisible worlds at need laid bare,
Come links for social order’s awful chain.

— William Wordsworth, The Poetical Works, vol. 5, Sonnets Composed or Suggested During a Tour in Scotland, in the Summer of 1833, London: Edward Moxon, 1837.

Feelings of Pleasure and Local Love

Stratford Hall Plantation, birthplace of Robert Edward Lee, set on high bluffs overlooking the Potomac River in the Northern Neck of Virginia.
Stratford Hall Plantation, birthplace of Robert Edward Lee, set on high bluffs overlooking the Potomac River in the Northern Neck of Virginia.

[I]n the absence of a home I wish I could purchase Stratford. That is the only place I could go to, now accessible to us, that would inspire me with feelings of pleasure and local love. You and the girls could remain there in quiet. It is a poor place, but we could make enough cornbread and bacon for our support and the girls could weave us clothes. I wonder if it is for sale and how much.

Letter of Robert E. Lee to his wife, Christmas Day, 1861.

Octagonal Buildings in the Valley of Virginia

Stephen Harnsberger House, Grottoes, Rockingham County, Virginia.
Stephen Harnsberger House, Grottoes, Rockingham County, Virginia.

The Harnsberger House, built in 1856, is a rare Rockingham County example of the mid- 19th-century octagonal building fad. While most country builders were constructing single- and double-pile, Georgian-plan houses, Stephen Harnsberger chose the octagonal shape espoused in Orson Fowler’s A Home for All, or the Gravel Wall and Octagon Mode of Building (1853). Although the facade and shape clearly reflect an awareness of new styles, the interior retains the traditional arrangement of spaces in a double-pile, Georgian design. Harnsberger’s brother, Robert Samuel Harnsberger, apparently became intrigued by the new fashion as well; he had an octagonal barn constructed on his farm in neighboring Augusta County. The house, together with the barn, reflects local interpretations of the pattern book styles in this conservative agricultural area — both insert traditional plans and ideals into octagonal shells.

The Harnsberger Octagonal Barn, also known the Mt. Meridian Octagonal Barn, near Grottoes, Augusta County, Virginia.
The Harnsberger Octagonal Barn, also known the Mt. Meridian Octagonal Barn, near Grottoes, Augusta County, Virginia.

The Harnsberger octagonal barn was built ca. 1867 under the direction of carpenter William Evers. The unusual structure is possibly a unique example of its type in Virginia and reflects the penetration of popular architectural ideals into the vernacular cultural patterns of rural Augusta County after the War of Northern Aggression. While most local carpenters were constructing the familiar bank barns, a form which derived from the Pennsylvania region and spread into the Valley of Virginia, Robert Harnsberger drew inspiration from the octagonal building styles popularized by Orson Fowler’s A Home for All, or the Gravel Wall and Octagon Mode of Building (1853). The Harnsberger barn did not copy Fowler’s pattern book designs directly, however. Augusta builders combined these new ideas with more traditional barn building concepts, integrating the new shape with the older bank barn form. Several older residents recall that the basic octagonal shape posed many problems for the local carpenters, who failed to get the barn to fit together correctly and called in others, specifically William Evers of Centerville, to complete it.

Restoration Drawings

A revised perspective view from Perry, Shaw, and Hepburn of the Court and Palace Greens, dated September 1928. From The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
A revised perspective view from Perry, Shaw, and Hepburn of the Court and Palace Greens, dated September 1928. From The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
From the Boston firm of Perry, Shaw, and Hepburn, a sketch of the proposed restoration of the Court and Palace Green area of Williamsburg, with Bruton Parish Church to the left and the Ludwell Paradise House to the far right on Duke of Gloucester Street. From The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
From the Boston firm of Perry, Shaw, and Hepburn, a sketch of the proposed restoration of the Court and Palace Green area of Williamsburg, with Bruton Parish Church to the left and the Ludwell Paradise House to the far right on Duke of Gloucester Street. From The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
A 1927 sketch of the town of Williamsburg, from Perry, Shaw, and Hepburn, with the College of William & Mary, right, on the west side. From The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
A 1927 sketch of the town of Williamsburg, from Perry, Shaw, and Hepburn, with the College of William & Mary, right, on the west side. From The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

Williamsburg is an extraordinary, conscientious and expensive exercise in historical playacting in which real and imitation treasures and modern copies are carelessly confused in everyone’s mind. Partly because it is so well done, the end effect has been to devalue authenticity and denigrate the genuine heritage of less picturesque periods to which an era and a people gave life.

Ada Louise Huxtable, 1965.

The First Essay of My Invention

Elevation of a design in the style of Inigo Jones by Colen Campbell, for John Campbell, 2nd Duke of Argyll, <em>Vitruvius Britannicus</em>, Volume I (1717), Plate 20.
Elevation of a design in the style of Inigo Jones by Colen Campbell, for John Campbell, 2nd Duke of Argyll, Vitruvius Britannicus, Volume I (1717), Plate 20.
Plan of a design in the style of Inigo Jones by Colen Campbell, for John Campbell, 2nd Duke of Argyll, Vitruvius Britannicus, Volume I (1717), Plate 19.
Plan of a design in the style of Inigo Jones by Colen Campbell, for John Campbell, 2nd Duke of Argyll, Vitruvius Britannicus, Volume I (1717), Plate 19.

I Have inscrib’d this Design to this illustrious Name, whose great Actions have filled the World with Surprize and Admiration; Ramellies and Tanniers are immortal. And as it’s my greatest Honour to receive my Blood from his August House, I thought I could no where so properly consecrate the first Essay of my Invention, as an eternal Monument of the deepest Respect and Gratitude. I have given two Plates: In the first are two Plans in a Square of 112 Foot; the Apartments of State are below, raised from the Court by 6 Steps which leads into the great Hall, making a Cube of 50 Foot, and has a Poggio within dividing the two Stories; from the Hall you enter the Salon, attended with two noble Apartments of State fronting the Gardens; all the Rooms are either upon the Square, the Diagonal, or other Proportions universally received: In the second Story is a large Library, an Antichamber of each side, with double Apartments; over which are Mezonins, for accommodating the Family, illuminated by low Laterns from the Leads, whereby the Majesty of the Front is preserved from the ill Effect of crowded Apertures. The second is the Front, raised from the Plinth which supports the Rusticks, adorned with a Composite Order of ¼ Columns, with a regular Entablature and Ballustrade; the Windows are dress’d in the Palladian manner: And I have endeavoured to reconcile the Beauty of an Arcade in the ancient Buildings with the Conveniency of the Moderns, but must leave it to others to judge the Success. Anno 1714. Description of “A new Design for the Duke of Argyle” by Colen Campbell, Esq., Vitruvius Britannicus; or, The British architect, containing the plans, elevations, and sections of the regular buildings, both publick and private in Great Britain, with variety of new designs, Volume I (1717).

An original of Plate 19 from Vitruvius Britannicus, Volume I, hangs in my study.
An original of Plate 19 from Vitruvius Britannicus, Volume I, hangs in my study.

Description of Kilchurn Castle

Lintel above the entrance doorway of the tower-house of Kilchurn Castle, dated 1693 (when it replaced the original), and displaying the arms of John Campbell, 1st Earl of Breadalbane, along with his initials and those of his second wife, Countess Mary Campbell, daughter of Archibald Campbell, 1st Marquess of Argyll and Lady Margaret Douglas.
Lintel above the entrance doorway of the tower-house of Kilchurn Castle, dated 1693 (when it replaced the original), and displaying the arms of John Campbell, 1st Earl of Breadalbane, along with his initials and those of his second wife, Countess Mary Campbell, daughter of Archibald Campbell, 1st Marquess of Argyll and Lady Margaret Douglas.

Kilchurn castle is situated on a peninsula at the north end of Loch Awe, and is well protected by water and marsh, while the buildings stand on a rocky platform of irregular shape, but with perpendicular faces, about 15 feet high, on three of its sides.

The plan of this keep has some peculiarities. The entrance door is in the north-east wall on the ground floor, and the stair to the upper floors starts from the opposite corner of that floor. The stair is unusually easy, being a square stair, so arranged that small vaulted rooms are provided on each side of it at the east end of the keep. The exterior is of the usual plain style and is built with granite rubble-work. The corbels carrying the corner bartizans are all cut out of the hardest gneiss or granite.

The additions were built in 1693, this date being carved on the work in two places, viz., the entrance door and the door to the stair turret on the south side of the keep. The first of these inscriptions is rather remarkable, and might be misleading. The original lintel of the entrance door of the keep has been removed, and a new lintel inserted, bearing the date 1693, and the initials and arms of John, first Earl of Breadalbane, and of his second wife, Countess Mary Stewart1 or Campbell.

Plan of Kilchurn Castle from <em>The Scottish Mountaineering Club Journal</em>, Vol. XII, No. 70, February, 1913; reproduced from David MacGibbon and Thomas Ross, <em>Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland</em>, 1887.
Plan of Kilchurn Castle from The Scottish Mountaineering Club Journal, Vol. XII, No. 70, February, 1913; reproduced from David MacGibbon and Thomas Ross, Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland, 1887.

Another curious circumstance connected with this door is, that it is the only entrance to the castle, so that to get into the quadrangle one has to pass through the narrow entrance door and cross the ground floor of the keep.

The additions made in 1693 convert this keep into a castle surrounding an irregular quadrangle.

The additional buildings have been very extensive, and would accommodate a large garrison, but they are not built with a view to resist a siege. The round towers at the angles and the numerous square loopholes on the ground floor would, however, suffice to defend the garrison against a sudden attack by Highlanders, which was probably what was to be chiefly apprehended in that inaccessible situation. Although this castle presents a striking and imposing appearance at a distance, it is somewhat disappointing on closer inspection. The interior walls are much destroyed, and the internal arrangements of the plan can scarcely be made out. The buildings have more the appearance of modern barracks than of an old castle. There are two kitchen fireplaces, and probably there were officers’ quarters and men’s quarters, while the keep and some additional accommodation adjoining would be set apart for the lord and his family.

— David MacGibbon and Thomas Ross, Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland, 1887.

1 The identification with Stewart would appear to be an error. Lady Mary Campbell was born after 1634. She was the daughter of Archibald Campbell1st Marquess of Argyll and Lady Margaret Douglas. She married, firstly, George Sinclair6th Earl of Caithness, son of John SinclairMaster of Berriedale and Lady Jean Mackenzie, on 22 September 1657 at Roseneath, Dunbartonshire, Scotland. She married, secondly, John Campbell of Glenorchy, 1st Earl of Breadalbane and Holland, son of Sir John Campbell of Glenorchy, 4th Bt.and Lady Mary Graham, on 7 April 1678. She died on 4 February 1690/91.

The Great House

The Great House at Shirley Plantation, Charles City County, Virginia, c. 1900-1906.
The Great House at Shirley Plantation, Charles City County, Virginia, c. 1900-1906.