Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Church of the Epiphany Episcopal Church, Danville, Virginia (1885 sketch.)

On Friday, August 22, 1879, the cornerstone was laid for the Episcopal Church at the corner of Main and Jefferson Street. The weather was pleasant, though a little too warm. The ceremony was conducted members of Masonic Lodge number 122 of Danville, Virginia. The group assembled at about 3 o’clock at the Masonic Hall and marched up Main Street to the site of the new building. Worshipful Master Robert Brydon, a Danville druggist, greeted the assembled throng of assembled ladies and gentlemen. Then the traditional pouring of the corn, wine and oil on the cornerstone took place. Brydon explained the emblematic significance of the pouring and followed by reading a list of the items to be place within the cornerstone:

1. View of the old church of Epiphany.
2. Photograph of Rev. G. W. Dame, rector of the church of Epiphany.
3. Directory of the town of Danville.
4. Bible, prayer book and hymnal.
5. Copy of address delivered before Roman Eagle Lodge by James W. Reid, Esq., June 24, 1878.
6. Copy of address of Judge B. R. Wellford, Jr., Grand Master, delivered before Grand Lodge of Virginia, December 1878.
7. List of officers of Roman Eagle Lodge No. 1222 A. F. & A. M.
8. List of all the members of Roman Eagle Lodge in chronological order.
9. Sample of leaf tobacco presented by W. W. Worsham, Esq. Sold on Aug 21, 1879 at $1.50 per pound.
10. List of Vestry, Building and Finance Committee of the church of the Epiphany, Danville.
11. Journal of the 84th annual council of the Protestant Episcopal church in Virginia.
12. A copy of the “Southern Churchman” of August 21, 1879.
13. Late numbers of newspapers published in the town of Danville, including copies of the Daily News of August 22 and the Weekly News of August 21st.
14. Specimens of Confederate paper money.
15. Business cards of merchants doing business in Danville.
16. Specimens of various coins in use at the present day.
17. Proceedings of the annual assembly of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templars of Virginia, 1878.
18. Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Virginia, 1878.
19. The name of the oldest native born inhabitant of Danville, now living, Wm. B. Watson, Esq.
20. The name of the oldest living resident of Danville, George Price, Esq. (AE 90.)
21. Extract from the record of Roman Eagle Lodge No. 122 A. F. & A. M. in reference to this ceremony.

After these articles were placed in the cornerstone, the work was squared, aligned, leveled and tested with the Masonic implements and pronounced “good” by the master, to conclude the ceremony. The plans for the new church were described as it being a gothic structure, stuccoed to resemble granite, 45 feet wide and 102 feet long. The vestibule was to be about 27 feet long, leaving the auditorium 75 feet long and 45 feet wide. The lecture room in the basement of the building will not be quite as long as the auditorium. “At proper points during the ceremony, a company of singers, comprising ladies and gentlemen, members of several of our city church, choirs, under the leadership of Professor Phifer, rendered appropriate hymns in excellent style and voice.” A lengthy address followed by Rev. Dr. George Washington Dame, the long-time rector of the Episcopal Church, who came to Danville in 1840. Rev. Dame gave a history of Episcopal church from its beginning in England and its beginnings in Virginia. He talked about the walls of the first church in American still standing in Jamestown and explained the difficulties and persecution during and after the Revolutionary War. The early church was the state church and was supported by tax money. From the Revolution until Rev. Dame came to Danville in 1840, there was no Episcopal church in the Danville area. After Rev. Dame concluded there was a “very fervent and pious” prayer by Rev. R. A. Compton of the Lynn Street Methodist Church. The Masonic brothers then formed their lines and marched back to the Masonic Hall at Main and Union Street downtown. Rev. Dr. George Washington Dame was a Mason for 62 years, 54 of which was with the Roman Eagle Lodge where he was Worshipful Master for 28 years. He authored a “Historical Sketch of the Roman Eagle Lodge No. 122, A F. and A. M. 1820-1895.” 1854 Masonic Temple on the corner of Main and Union Street, Danville, Virginia.

This is the first Masonic Temple to be located at Main and Union Street. The cornerstone was laid in 1852. “On one occasion when the workmen were at a standstill for want of timber, brother Dame took a wagon and went to his own land, felled the trees, had the lumber prepared and taken to the temple and thus the work did not stop for want of material.” This building cost about $9,000.and was dedicated on May 24, 1854. A second building was built in 1901 and another eleven-story building in 1921.

copyright 2011 Robert D. "Danny" Ricketts, Do you use without permission.
Email: dan@rdricketts.com