Frying Pan Meeting House

Historical Significance

Frying Pan Meetinghouse is one of the oldest racially-integrated Baptist churches in Virginia. In 1775, a Baptist congregation was organized at Bull Run under the leadership of Elder Richard Major as its pastor. The congregation was granted permission to construct a structure by land owner Robert "Councillor" Carter in 1791. Though they maintained separate seating, the congregation worshiped, were baptized, and were buried together, irrespective of race.

Although African Americans were welcomed in the Frying Pan Meeting House, they were segregated from the rest of the congregation, both during life and after. Within the meeting house, African Americans worshiped from the galleries that lined both sides of the building. In 1833, the church appointed an enslaved African American, Jupiter, to try to keep order among the African Americans in the gallery during the services. Jupiter took other leadership roles within the church. When a complaint was laid against Tom, an African-American member, for "conduct disgraceful to the Christian profession," Jupiter was nominated to give him notice.

In September 1868, a request was made of the African-American worshippers to explain why they had not attended church since the Civil War. The church accepted the response, but in December 1881, the church again requested an explanation for the cause of declining attendance by African-American members. These members explained that they were cold in the segregated gallery because it lacked a stove. They hoped to raise funds to buy one in the future.

In 1984, the last surviving trustee of the Meeting House deeded the property to the Fairfax County Park Authority "...to preserve the building and grounds for posterity." 

Physical Description

The church is a wood frame meetinghouse  and includes an adjoining spring, baptismal pond, grounds and cemetery. The meeting house and grounds are not open to the public on a regular basis but tours are scheduled each spring and fall.

Geographical and Contact Information

2615 Centreville Rd
Herndon, Virginia
20171

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Frying Pan Meeting House

Frying Pan Meeting House

Source: Courtesy Virginia Department of Historic Resources View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, “Frying Pan Meeting House,” African American Historic Sites Database, accessed July 23, 2017, http://aahistoricsitesva.org/items/show/166.

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