This gallery showcases a collection of abandoned churches located throughout West Virginia.
- Cedar Creek Methodist Church
- Dusk Camp Methodist Church
- Emmanuel Methodist Episcopal Church
- First Baptist Church
- Hills Chapel
- Jenkinjones Baptist Church
- Mt. Pleasant Methodist Church
- New Salem Baptist Church
- Pleasant Green Methodist Episcopal Church
- Quinnimont Baptist Church
- Quinnimont Missionary Baptist Church
- St. Michaels Lutheran Church
- Woods Poage Chapel
- Wyco Church
Abandoned churches in West Virginia are poignant symbols of the state’s rich and complex history. Dotting the rural and urban landscapes, these structures often stand as solemn testaments to the shifting demographics and economic realities of the region. Once vibrant centers of community life, reflecting the deep religious and cultural roots of Appalachia, many of these churches now display varying degrees of neglect and decay.
Cedar Creek Methodist Church
Cedar Creek Methodist Church was constructed circa 1876 in Gilmer County, West Virginia. 11 The Vernacular-styled church features clapboard siding, a standing seam metal roof, a square cupola with spire, decorative scrollwork, and diamond-shaped shingles and louvers in the tower, and two entrance doors with transoms and pedimented hoods with 1/1 windows. The church later merged with the United Methodist sects, moved to this location, and became known as the Burke United Methodist Church.
Dusk Camp Methodist Church
Dusk Camp Methodist Church was constructed circa 1904 by Alvin Cottrill, I. E. Helmick, Alvin Post, E. Westfall, and others in Gilmer County, West Virginia. 12 The Vernacular-styled church features clapboard siding, a corrugated metal roof, a collapsed square cupola, a modern veneer door with transom, and 2/2 windows. The church later merged with the United Methodist sects, closed in the 1950s, and reopened by Rev. Robinson circa 1959. It closed again in October 1999.
Emmanuel Methodist Episcopal Church
The Emmanuel Methodist Episcopal Church, also known as the Bruffeys Creek Church, was constructed c. 1899 in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. 2
First Baptist Church
The First Baptist Church is located in Thurmond, West Virginia.
Hills Chapel was established c. 1899 in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. 1
Jenkinjones Baptist Church
The Jenkinjones Baptist Church was situated in the New Town area of Jenkinjones, West Virginia. This particular section of the town was designated for African-Americans, highlighting the segregated nature of the community. 13 It was one of two churches in the town that were constructed or approved by the Pocahontas Consolidated Collieries Company.
The building was built constructed circa 1913-17 as a gable-front structure that faced southwest, with a prominent corner facing the town. 13 It followed the typical design of frame structures, with piers supporting the building instead of a continuous masonry foundation. Although it was primarily built with vernacular materials like clapboard siding, it incorporated some decorative elements from the Late Gothic Revival movement, particularly in its window and door arrangement. The building included two entrances, with one leading into the bell tower. However, at a later point, an incompatible one-story addition was made to the church structure, altering its original design.
The Jenkinjones Baptist Church later became the Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church before being abandoned.
Mt. Pleasant Methodist Church
The first service at Mt. Pleasant in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, was organized by Rev. James E. Moore and Rev. John Waugh in 1840. 9 The first services were held in an old log school house. In 1868, another log schoolhouse was built across the road, and from that time until 1893, the original log structure was used as a community center.
A new combination schoolhouse and church were erected in 1893 and shared space until a dedicated two-room school was built adjacent to the property in 1922. 9 Due to a scarcity of ministers, the church was closed by the Methodist Conference in 1960. Community members began holding “singings” and repaired the church over the years.
New Salem Baptist Church
The New Salem Baptist Church was constructed in the Gothic Revival architectural style c. 1921 for African-Americans in the coal camp of Tams, West Virginia. 5 6 Tams was a racially segregated community and was divided into the American Town, the Immigrant Town, and the Colored Town, the latter being located on the north side of Tams. 5 The church was erected after the board of trustees of the congregation approached W.P. Tams, Jr., who owned the company town, requesting that a church be built for their community. After providing funding, Tams was repaid in full by the congregation in 1928 and the church received a clear title for the property.
The church reached its peak during the 1930s with 350 members. 5 The Tams No. 1 mine was worked out by 1941 but the Tams No. 2 mine down in the Pocahontas No. 4 seam was in operation until 1966. 6 In the mid-1950s, the Gulf Smokeless Coal company merged with the Winding Gulf Collaries and the McAlpin Coal Company to form Winding Gulf Coals and continued to operate mines at or near Tams until 1970. 5 The Westmoreland Coal Company set up regional headquarters for their Winding Gulf Division at Tams circa 1971, but it eventually had to declare bankruptcy during a downturn in the coal industry in the 1980s.
Residences in the Black Town of Tams were slowly removed by the Slab Fork Coal Company so that it could build and expand upon a preparation plant and complex for its No. 10 mine in the 1960s and 1970s. 5 By the mid-1980s, the last resident of Tams had left and all of the buildings from the community, with the exception of the New Salem Baptist Church, were removed.
As of 2016, the New Salem Baptist Church was still active but had just a handful of worshippers. 5
Pleasant Green Methodist Episcopal Church
The Pleasant Green Methodist Episcopal Church in African-American Methodist Episcopal church in Seebert, West Virginia. Constructed in 1888, the building features traditional Gothic Revival styling, clapboard siding, a standing seam metal roof, and a central entrance bell tower. Adjoining the church is a circa 1920 parsonage and cemetery. The property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.
Quinnimont Baptist Church
The Quinnimont Baptist Church was constructed in the Gothic Revival architectural style c. 1920 in Quinnimont, West Virginia. 3
Quinnimont Missionary Baptist Church
The Quinnimont Missionary Baptist Church for African Americans was established in 1880 in Quinnimont, West Virginia. 4 The increasing number of African Americans living within the New River Gorge led to the formation of the New River Baptist Association in 1884.
St. Michaels Lutheran Church
Four acres of land for the church and cemetery were acquired for one shilling from Michael and Sophia Wilfong along the South Fork South Branch Potomac River in Pendleton County, West Virginia, on October 1, 1794, for the construction of St. Michaels Lutheran Church to serve German-speaking immigrants who had settled in the area. A log structure was soon erected circa 1800, and the earliest record of church service held there was January 1, 1807.
The building was consumed in a fire in 1921 and was promptly rebuilt. Weekly services were held until 1974 before being consolidated with other nearby Lutheran churches.
Woods Poage Chapel
The Woods Poage Chapel near Clover Lick in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, was constructed in 1919. 8
Woods Poage Chapel was established as a mission of the Marlinton Presbyterian Church, and services were held from 1897 to 1919 10 in a schoolhouse on the lands of Wood Poage and at another schoolhouse near the Tom residence. 8 The first church to be built was an old log church structure in 1874, dedicated as Union Chapel Church but commonly referred to as Beverage Church. It was a union church until 1890, used by all branches of Methodist and Dunkards. The Methodist Episcopal Church then used the structure until 1900, when it became overcrowded. 8 Services then began to be held at the Poage Lane schoolhouse.
In May 1919, the Presbyterian Church acquired the former Winterburn Presbyterian Church building, 10 a combination two-story church and lodge building that had been built by the lumber company at Thornwood. 8 As the company and the company town had moved out, the church building was no longer being used and had been sold to Fount Arbogast. 10 The building was dismantled and shipped by rail to Clover Lick and hauled five miles by wagon to a lot donated by Quincy Poage. The one-story building was dedicated as Woods Poage Chapel in memory of Wood Poage, the father of Quincy Poage and the first settler in the community.
Although deeded to the Presbyterians, it was available to all denominations when not in use. 8 The Methodists used it until 1926, and since 1930 was used by the Brethren.
The Wyco Church was constructed in the late Gothic Revival architectural style c. 1917 in the coal camp of Wyco, West Virginia. 7 Wyco was developed by John Wilson for the Wyoming Coal Company. Wilson’s partner, Major W.T. Tams, who was serving in Europe during the first World War, had developed the Tams coal camp across the mountain before founding Wyco.
Attendance in the church began dropping by the late 1950s, partly because of adjoining coal mines being exhausted and mechanization, all of which resulted in the slow decline in Wyco. 7 It eventually stopped offering services until it reopened in 1964 as the Wyco Independent Church, a non-denominational facility. It became the Wyco Freewill Baptist Church in 1972 and the Wyco Independent Baptist Church on February 1, 1977.
In 1990, after the last operator of the mines at Wyco, the Pittston Coal Company, closed the mines for good, the church was abandoned. 7 On May 13, 2003, the Wyco Church was transferred to the Rural Appalachian Improvement League (RAIL) and partly restored.