contentsFront Royal VA Chamberads

Houses of Worship

Faith is at the heart of hearth and home for residents of Front Royal – Warren County. Deep religious roots draw residents and visitors alike to more than 18 Baptist, nine Methodist, three Presbyterian, two Catholic and a variety of other denominational houses of worship.

Early settlers brought their own religious beliefs and church affiliations to Front Royal and the Shenandoah River Valley. Despite an initial lack of clergy and the 1747 presence of Church of England chapels, settlers soon instilled their own religious traditions.

Across Warren County, Quakers were the first to congregate and organize in Cedarville in 1736. Baptists led by James Ireland organized in 1770. The first Methodist congregation in Warren County formed in 1792 and was visited by the famous itinerant bishop, Francis Ashbury, in 1804. A Presbyterian congregation began in 1794, sharing facilities with the Baptists until their own church was constructed in 1814. Front Royal’s historic churches range in date from circa 1845 to1930 and feature several architectural styles including Greek and Gothic Revival.

Williams Chapel (231Chester St.) is the oldest church in Front Royal and the area’s only church to survive the Civil War. Celebrating an historic 123rd anniversary this year, the chapel building was finished in 1845 featuring Greek Revival-style ecclesiastic architecture. Through the years it has served as a Presbyterian Church, courthouse, seat of county government, schoolhouse and Christian Methodist Episcopal church. During the first full year of the Civil War, Warren County government left the courthouse for use as a military hospital and based county operations in Williams Chapel.

M.C. Richardson bought the church from school trustees in 1890 and sold it three years later to the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.

Many local churches, such as St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church (located at the corner of West Main Street and Luray Avenue), also boast historic roots. Dedicated in 1884, the original church was built as a memorial for John Carrell Jenkins, a Maryland soldier who died of typhoid in 1861 while serving the Confederacy in western Virginia and whose family provided initial funding for construction, the church’s altar, bell, pews, sanctuary lamp, vestments and sacred vessels. Completed in 1883, the church’s Gothic Revival style in its lancet-shaped windows and narrow, pointed steeple has been a landmark for more than 120 years.

At the northwest corner of North Royal Avenue and West Main Street, and originally built as the Methodist Episcopal Church South, the Front Royal United Methodist Church is a native gray stone, Gothic Revival building featuring square tower, decorative stonework, and complex roofline.

Two historically African-American houses of worship are located within the historic district boundary. John Wesley United Methodist Church was originally constructed as an African-American Methodist Episcopal Church in 1881 and the Mount Vernon Baptist Church (240 Church Street), houses the town’s oldest African-American congregation.

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