Clio Logo

More than a century before America was even founded, The Old Donation Episcopal Church held its first service in 1637. The Old Donation Episcopal Church’s long-standing history has been made possible by notable figures in Virginia’s history that may already be known by many such as Adam Thoroughgood, Mr. Thurmer Hoggard IV, and Rev. Richard Alfriend. Without the influence of these men, the church would not hold the exceptional reputation and significant value that it does in the 21st century. Though the church has undergone relocations, tragedies such as forest fires, and a considerable amount of reconstruction over the course of many years, its history remains as rich as ever.

Plant, Building, Sky, Tree

Plant, Building, Sky, Tree

Paint, Painting, Art, Building

Plant, Window, Building, Fixture

Outerwear, Sleeve, Formal wear, Brick

Forehead, Hair, Nose, Face

Existing records show that on May 17, 1637, the first service of the Old Donation Episcopal Church took place. Rather than take place in a traditional church building, the service took place in Adam Thoroughgood’s rather crude and rudimentary home. About two years later, the few members of the congregation realized they were in desperate need of a more conventional church building. In the year 1639, the first of three church buildings was finally created by the congregation. At the time, the building was given the name Lynnhaven Parish Church. 

Once the Lynnhaven Parish Church building was established, the church quickly began to prosper, and over the course of the next fifty years, the congregation grew so great in size that in 1692, a second church building was erected. This newly created building took on the mantle of the previous church and was named Lynnhaven Parish Church No. 2. Another forty years down the line, the church required an expansion yet again. The third and final church was constructed next to the second church in 1732 and remains the same building we know as the Old Donation Episcopal Church in the present day.

For more than 100 years, services were held every Sunday at the Old Donation Church Building until 1840 when the building was abandoned. Instead of continuing to worship at a small, outdated church building, the congregation decided that it would be best if they migrated to the more populous Kempsville Emmanuel Episcopal Church. Unfortunately, the abandoned church caught fire in 1882, which destroyed the roof and part of the walls rendering the church building completely inhospitable.

 Luckily, the church gained prominence again when Mr. Thurmer Hoggard IV, a man who had worshipped at the church when he was a boy, recognized the significance of the site and began organizing annual trips with children and the rest of the congregation to see the remains of the burned down Old Donation Church. After witnessing Thurmer Hoggard’s example, Reverend Richard J. Alfriend took further measures to ensure that the destroyed church was not forgotten. In the early 1900’s Rev. Alfriend began holding actual church services outdoors on the land next to the burned-down church during Sundays with nice weather to educate those who weren’t able to worship there in the 1800s.

By 1916, Rev. Alfriend was able to unify enough members to rebuild the Old Donation Church from its once destroyed state and the congregation commenced weekly church services on Sunday mornings. Over the course of the last century, the Old Donation Episcopal Church has been full of life and activity. The congregation currently has over 800 members and holds community activities such as annual Christmas pageants, Oyster Roasts, and much more!

“About Us.” Old Donation Episcopal Church Serving Christ since 1637,

Old Donation Episcopal Church :: - City of Virginia Beach,

“Old Donation History.” Old Donation History,