History on display for community

Published 12:21 pm Friday, January 22, 2010

Each year thousands of people visit the American Village in Montevallo.

The mission of the Citizenship Trust and The American Village is “to strengthen and renew the Foundations of American liberty and self-government through citizenship education.”

Tours are given regularly in a setting that takes visitors on an educational journey to the founding of our country and it’s government.

Each building at The American Village is significant to our nation’s early history.

The Lucille Ryals Thompson Colonial Chapel, constructed primarily with funds provided by Hall Thompson, is designed as a replica of Bruton Parish Church in Williamsburg, Va., with only a few differences.

The original church has stone floors, whereas the chapel has wooden floors, donated by Janet Seaman of Seaman Timber Co. in Montevallo.

All of Bruton Parish’s pews are boxed while the chapel’s design incorporates fewer boxed pews in order to provide ample seating.

Modern conveniences are also available in the chapel.

Bruton Parish began in Middle Plantation, later named Williamsburg, in the Virginia Colony. Middle Plantation, established in 1632, was located between the James and York Rivers and was the first major settlement for the colony.

The parish was actually formed by the merging of three smaller parishes. Harrop Parish and Middle Plantation Parish merged in 1658, forming Middletown Parish. When Marston Parish joined Middletown Parish in 1674, Bruton Parish was formed.

The church’s name was given to honor the families of Ludwell and Governor Berkeley, whose family homes were located in Bruton in Somerset, England.

The original brick church was completed in 1683, but, with the influx of people and activity to Williamsburg, the building was soon outgrown. In 1706, discussion began to build a new, larger church.

In 1715, Virginia’s first cruciform-shaped church was completed.

Bruton Parish’s new church building soon became one of the most popular buildings in the Virginia Colony, serving the needs of government officials and townspeople alike.

As members of the Virginia House of Burgesses, George Washington, Patrick Henry, and Thomas Jefferson attended services at Bruton Parish. During the Civil War, the church served as a hospital for wounded Confederate soldiers.

Bruton Parish has been in continual service since it’s completion in 1715.

Services are still conducted today in the Bruton Parish Episcopal Church.

Catherine Cousins writes a weekly column about the history of our county. Cousins by e–mail at info@catherinecousins.com.