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Fredericksburg Walking Tour
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St. George's Episcopal Church, built in 1849, is the third church that has been located on this site. An excellent example of Early Romanesque Revival architecture, the building was designed by Baltimore architect Robert Cary Long, Jr. and features a 168-foot central clock and bell tower, three arched doorways with Tuscan pilasters, a pair of quatrefoil windows, tall arched stained glass windows, and decorative arched brickwork along the roof eaves. The clock in the tower was added in 1851 and still works today. During the Civil War, the church was used as a hospital in 1862 after the First Battle of Fredericksburg and in 1864 after the Battle of the Wilderness. The church is connected to a school building erected in 1823 and another school that was constructed in 1959. The buildings surround a courtyard that contains a cemetery. St. George's was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2019.

St. George's Episcopal Church was built in 1849, becoming the third church on this site.

Sky, Wheel, Cloud, Tire

In 1720, the House of Burgesses of Virginia (the representative body of the Virginia colony) designated the property where St. George's now stands to be the site of an Anglican church. Construction of the first church, a frame structure called Rappahannock Church, did not begin until 1732 and was not completed until 1741. However, church services began to be held in 1734. Members George Washington's family started to attend services in 1738.

The American Revolutionary War severed the church-state ties. By then the Anglican Church had become known as the Episcopal Church, and membership decreased significantly as many considered it a vestige of British rule. The Rappahannock Church appears to have been unused in the coming years and it fell into disrepair. In 1813, a young 20-year old minister, Edward McGuire, became the minister of the church, which only had 12 members at the time. He was ordained the next year and remained for 45 years. He oversaw the construction of the second church, this time built of brick, in 1815. Some time in the next decade, the congregation renamed itself St. George's.

In 1816, the church established the first Sunday school in the region, which enabled poor children to learn to read and write. A school building was erected in 1823 and was later named Faulkner Hall in honor of Rev. Thomas G. Faulkner, who served as rector in the 20th century. Attendance peaked in 1846 with more than 350 students and 30 teachers. Interestingly and rare for the time in Virginia, 80 enslaved children attended the school and classes were integrated. By 1850, Sunday school was prevalent throughout the state. This ended when weekday public schools were established in 1870.

The present church replaced the brick building in 1849. A fire in 1854 damaged the building but the church was restored and partially reconfigured. An addition was built as well, and the bells were replaced (they are still rung today). Church services were sporadic during the Civil War but as noted above, St. George's was used as a hospital twice. It was also the location of a Confederate religious revival services in 1862 and 1863. The building did suffer some damages in this period but repairs were completed in 1870. The first of the 16 stained glass windows were installed in 1876, three of which were made by Tiffany Studios. The construction of McGuire Hall in 1959 was the last major development on the church grounds (an addition was built to it in 1995). The church was restored in the 2000s.

"History." St. George's Episcopal Church. Accessed June 26, 2023.

Sylvester, Caitlin. "St. George's Episcopal Church." National Park Service - National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. March 19, 2019.

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