Orrick Chapel

Historical Significance

Initially, African Americans worshiped with white Methodists at Stephens City Methodist Church. By 1858, they had a separate house of worship on Mulberry Street, but remained under the supervision of the local white Methodists. The church burned after the Civil War, at which time the white Methodists in Stephens City joined the Methodist Episcopal Church and the local African-American Methodists formed an independent congregation. The present Orrick Chapel building was built between 1866 and 1869 with the assistance of Winchester preacher and liveryman Robert Orrick, who donated the construction materials for the new building, as well as setting aside the land for Orrick Cemetery on nearby Valley Avenue.

Orrick was born into slavery in 1841. Shortly before the Civil War, his owner, Joseph Kean (or Cain) allowed Orrick to establish a livery stable in Winchester, and Orrick continued the business as a free man after Emancipation. The livery stable prospered, and by 1870, Orrick had amassed over $3,000 worth of real estate and $2,000 worth of personal property. By the 1890s and possibly as early as 1880, he held a contract with the U.S. Post Office to deliver mail from Winchester to Romney, West Virginia. In addition to running a livery stable and a mail route, Orrick was a Methodist preacher who sermonized in several African-American Methodist churches in the Winchester area.

Around 1900, the church building was renovated, and in the mid-20th-century, additions were made to the front and rear of the original church building. In 1991 the Orrick Chapel merged with Stephens City Methodist Church, demonstrating the improvement in race relations within the Methodist Church since the 1930s when the national church imposed racial segregation on their congregations. In 1993, the trustees of the two churches conveyed the church property to the Stone House Foundation, a non-profit group that owns and operates several historic house museums in Stephens City. 

Physical Description

The original church was approximately twenty feet wide and thirty feet long, with its main entrance on the northwest gable and rectangular windows on its side and rear walls. A 1880s photograph depicts the building as a front-gable, frame structure with a belfry.  Two additions have since been made: a one-story frame vestibule was constructed circa 1950, and a one-story frame fellowship hall was added to the rear of the building after 1960.

Geographical and Contact Information

5310 Mulberry Street
Stephens City, Virginia
22655
Phone: 540-869-1700
Fax: 540-869-0400

Cite this Page:

Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, “Orrick Chapel,” African American Historic Sites Database, accessed June 29, 2017, http://aahistoricsitesva.org/items/show/323.

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