I was scanning aerial photography of Caroline County and saw this striking image in the landscape – above-ground crypts in a church graveyard:
The 1897 map shows this was the site of St Paul African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church:
I finally visited the site a few weeks ago. The scene was incredible. Pulpit, piano, pews, and stained glass were still in place. I found hand-hewn sill timbers – evidence that the building was indeed built in the early 1800s, as noted by one source.
The roof is caving in. One of the newer headstones in the graveyard was deliberately toppled off its pediment. Within a generation, this old church building will die and disappear into the landscape like many others. The gravestones will remain hidden under tangled vines for a thousand years. Then they will disappear, too. The viewing is here:
Stand in the Place.
Soon St. Paul AME church will be gone. The obituary might read like this – adapted from the non-profit St. Paul Church Historical Revitalization and Maintenance Inc.:
“St. Paul Church Historical Revitalization and Maintenance Inc. was formed in December 2000 to preserve church and maintain the grounds. The church building is over 150 years old …
Barbara Cook – First President
William H. Briggs – First Treasurer
Odette Hawkins – First Secretary