Huntersville was the name given to the sedate, scenic and historic village in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains as a compliment to the hunters that swarmed there each season.
Three historic buildings still stand in Huntersville: the brick jail, built in 1823 after Huntersville became a county seat of Pocahontas County by an Act of the Virginia Assembly in 1822; the old schoolhouse, built in the 1800s; and the Presbyterian Church, which was completed in 1854. The church and jail withstood the fire set by the Federal troops during the Civil War to prevent Huntersville from becoming a Confederate depot for military supplies
In 1836, religious needs of the community were at least partially met when a Presbyterian congregation was organized and became part of the expanding Greenbrier Presbytery. Religious services were held in the courthouse for many years; then the academy, built in 1842, was used as a place of worship. The Presbyterian Church was constructed in 1854, it was used by all denominations.
Mr. George E. Craig donated the land where the church was built. Mr. Craig was a prominent businessman of Huntersville. It was on this land his home stood in 1852, when it was consumed by fire along with his two hotels and a store.
The Huntersville Presbyterian Church is an example of vernacular architecture adapted to a small rural community in the late nineteenth century. The building is eclectic in that it combines features that may be attributed to several different styles (i.e., Greek Revival simplicity in the original rectangular block with smooth wall surfaces., Carpenters’ Gothic in the steep-gabled dormers that used to be at the fourth level of the stair tower-steeple, and simple Victorian era flourishes in such details as the attractive cornice brackets and circular light above the main entrance). Overall lines and construction techniques, however, are local interpretations by skilled craftsmen.
The interior consists of a large sanctuary with an associated vestibule on the first floor and balcony for slaves, (there is a gallery at the rear), a lodge hall with anteroom on the second floor and a stair tower with a small “Session Room” at the second level. The sanctuary is entered through either of two doors in the vestibule, and the pulpit area is approached along aisles between rows of pews. Although the furnishings are pleasing, function was the primary consideration, evident even in the two old wood-burning stoves placed about midway along the side row of pews. Four sets of supporting posts break the interior lines.
This basic floor design is repeated in the lodge hall except that ceremonial trappings of Free Masonry replace the religious symbols of the church. A raised floor, about four feet deep, is at either side, and there are elevated platforms or daises at each end.
Special features of the interior include the open-well, closed-string stair with its recessed panels, turned balusters and pendants and intricate newels with ball finials and the special embellishments in the lodge hall (such as the decorative wooden arch in the center of the rear wall).
Huntersville Presbyterian Church was the 18th Presbyterian Church to be constructed in the Greenbrier Presbytery and one of three to be constructed in this Presbytery during 1854. The other two were Centerville Presbyterian Church in Greenville, Monroe County, and Mount Pleasant Presbyterian Church in Sinks Gove, Monroe County.
In July of 1855, the women of Huntersville formed the Female Benevolent Society whose object was to raise funds for a bell for the church. They held a fair where pies, cakes, bread and other edibles were sold for a total of $82.67. A bell, weighting 176 pounds with hangings, was purchased for $73.25, there was an additional cost for the clapper. The bell was shipped by water and railroad to Goshen, Virginia, and hauled by horse and buggy from there to Huntersville. This bell still hangs in the Church’s bell tower.
The Civil War came soon after this colonial structure was completed. During the war, it was used as a garrison and hospital for Federal and Confederate troops. Names of soldiers were left inscribed on the walls of the church and could be seen until the church was redecorated in the 1950s and painted over. “Fox and Geese” game hoards were carved in the pews, which are still visible.
Robert E. Lee was encamped within a stone’s throw of the church while it was being used as a hospital. The town was never captured but often occupied by both sides at different times.
After the Civil War, Huntersville, known as “The Little Place with Large Ways,” held a military celebration several years after called the “Big Muster.” The “Big Muster” was held on and around the Presbyterian Church.
The Masonic Lodge of Huntersville was organized in 1875. In need of a Lodge Hall, arrangements were made with the trustees of the Presbyterian Church in 1895, to add a second story to the church building for to be used as a Lodge Hall.
Few alterations have been made to the building since the second floor (lodge hall) and stair/bell tower additions were completed in 1896.
The church interior was redecorated prior to its hundredth anniversary on August 12, 1954. The interior walls of the first floor were painted green and the pews were redone. The original organ is still there but it is not used.
Few people were attending the church in 1957 (it had only 12 active members). Shortly thereafter, in 1971, these members joined with the Westminster Church.
In 1978, the Huntersville Presbyterian Church was approved for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
The Huntersville Presbyterian Church never had a resident minister. A partial list of ministers that served the church are as follows: William T. Price, M.D. Dunlap, J. Newton Craig, J. S. Blair, David Cunningham, Joseph Brown, T. P. W. Margruder, J. C. Barr, R. P. Kennedy, G. L. Brown, H. H. Hamilton, J. H. McCrown, James D. Singletary and Willis V. Cornelius.
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The above history was compiled using the following sources: Pocahontas County History – 1981; The Pocahontas Times; and A Brief History of the Huntersville Presbyterian Church, by Julia Ann Lockridge.