St. John's Church was established in 1741 and is Richmond's oldest church. The church was the site of several political conventions and is most noted for the words uttered by Patrick Henry now etched in history: "Give me liberty or give me death." Another interesting and little-known fact is that Benedict Arnold (yes, the traitor) holed up his troops during the Revolutionary War in St. John's. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson also met in these hallowed halls. Visitors can sit in the pews and envision the political discourse that shaped the nation happening in real time.
St. John's distinctive architectural design makes it easily recognizable from other structures in Richmond. A cross peaks its multi-tiered steeple on the top. Walking up to the property feels like a time travel experience. Imagine the rumble of conversation going on inside. Envision horse-drawn carriages tethered to wooden fences. Feel the nation's formation happening all around.
The cemetery on the grounds of St. John's Episcopal Church should not be missed during a visit. There are a few notable people interred here including George Wythe, who signed the Declaration of Independence and Henry Clay. Interestingly, also laid to rest here is the mother of famed poet Edgar Allan Poe. Richmond is—well, RICH—with history and will captivate you with its charms and treasures.
The church is as active today as it was back then—though the programming is a bit different. Services and tours happen at St. John’s Church regularly.
Cover Image Credit: JF Martin via unsplash.com