Civil War Period Church Pew from Church Used as a Field Hospital
Church Pew from Church Used as a Field Hospital – This fine condition, gothic style, church pew was originally in Emmanuel Episcopal Church, still standing on Wilmer Avenue, in Richmond, Virginia. The church, constructed in 1859, sat nearly directly on top of the outer defenses of Richmond, constructed by the Confederate Army, at the onset of the Civil War. This section of the Confederate earthworks would see some of the only significant combat that occurred along the outer defenses and was used as a field hospital and camp site by both Confederate and Union troops. This pew was removed during a remodeling of the church some 20 or 30 years ago and was stored in the church basement. The long-time Rector of the church, Frederick Goodwin, a Civil War collector and relic hunter, kept the pew for his own personal collection. Perry Adams obtained the pew directly from Mr. Goodwin’s widow, and we will supply a notarized letter, signed by Mrs. Goodwin, affirming t its origins. The pew, constructed of heart pine and oak, in the gothic style (to maintain the integrity of the gothic-themed architecture of the church itself) is in excellent condition; it has its original finish and is about seven feet in length. This pew was there during the war and the church’s use as a campsite and hospital. History of the Church – Brothers John and Daniel Kerr Stewart, both born on the Island of Bute in Scotland, emigrated and established a farm at Brook Hill. Although they had been members of Monumental Church and then St. Paul’s Church, both in downtown Richmond, Virginia, their property was on the city’s outskirts. Between 1859 and 1860, they supported creation of a new parish near their farm, which was organized in 1860. Bishop John Johns consecrated the building on July 6, 1860. The first rector was Rev. Richard Hooker Wilmer, a friend of John Stewart and future Confederate Bishop, elected to the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama in 1862. During the American Civil War, troops often traveled on Brook Road, almost in front of this church, and both armies at various times occupied the building, often using it as a hospital. The early Brook turnpike between Richmond and Dabney Williamson’s Tavern became a major thoroughfare during the American Revolution. Nearby Virginia historical markers describe Sheridan’s maneuvers in 1864, Richmond’s outer defenses on the road, and the renaming of the entire road between Petersburg and Alexandria Virginia as Jefferson Davis Highway between 1913 and 1947. The church built a school in 1910, and a parish hall in the 1950s. The parish has also been known for its social activism. John Stewart’s daughter Marian, who married George William Peterkin (who became the first Bishop of West Virginia), wrote about its mottos: “God is with us” and “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much”. Immediately in front of the church, in addition to a historic marker concerning the church, is a marker commemorating artist and suffragette Adele Goodman Clark. Architecture – The church and church school (built in 1910), as well as the cemetery were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. Rhode Island architect Clifton A. Hall designed the church. Richard Hooker Wilmer, the only bishop to be consecrated by the Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America, is buried in the church cemetery, as are many Confederate soldiers. Virginia bishop William Cabell Brown (1861-1927) is also buried in the churchyard.