Abandoned Churches in West Virginia






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

Hills Chapel was established c. 1899 in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. 1


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

The first services in the area were held 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 1919, the community acquired a combination two-story church and lodge building that had been built by the lumber company at Raywood. 8 As the company and the company town had moved out, the church building was no longer being used. The building was dismantled and relocated to flat land near Clover Lick. The one-story building was dedicated as Woods Poage Chapel in memory of Wood Poage, the first settler in the community and the father of the two Poage brothers for which the community was named.

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.


Wyco Church

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.


Other






Further Reading


Sources

  1. Greenawalt, Justin and Mary Stack. West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office, 2011, Hills Chapel.
  2. West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office, Emmanuel Methodist Episcopal Church.
  3. Valente, Kim A. West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office, 1994, Quinnimont Baptist Church.
  4. Quinnimont Missionary Baptist Church.” National Park Service, 12 Feb. 2021.
  5. New Salem Baptist Church.” Preservation Alliance of West Virginia, 1 Feb. 2016.
  6. DellaMea, Chris. “Tams.” Coalfields of the Appalachian Mountains, 2021.
  7. Weaver, Shirley, Catherine Bell, and Dewey Houck. “Wyco Church.” National Park Service, 8 Jan. 2010.
  8. CHURCHES AT POAGE LANE—near Clover Lick.” Shinaberry Family And Other Information, 
  9. “Mt. Pleasant Church.” History of Pocahontas County, West Virginia 1981, Taylor Publishing Company, Dallas, TX, 1981, p. 135.

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