Thursday, December 9, 2010

Blandford Church

While on a recent trip through Virginia, I was able to visit the historic Blandford Church, located in Petersburg. The church is nearly as old as Virginia itself, having been built in 1735. It sat vacant for nearly a century, from 1800 to 1900, but during the War Between the States, it was used as a field hospital. The structure is a simple one-story, with a balcony that was later taken out.

After the war, Louis Tiffany was commissioned to create stained glass windows in honor of the southern states, each one portrayed by a saint. These include St. John for Virginia, St. Peter for Missouri, St Mark for South Carolina, St. Bartholomew for North Carolina, St. Paul for Louisiana, St James for Mississippi, St. Philip for Tennessee, St. Thomas for Georgia, St. Matthew for Florida, St. Luke for Texas, and St. Andrew for Alabama. Two smaller windows at the back of the church represent Arkansas and Maryland. Every saint has subtle details included within the window. There is also a poem etched in pencil on one of the walls, which is thought to have been composed by either Edgar Allen Poe or Tyrone Powers.

There are only five states that have Tiffany glass windows, and they are in Virginia, New York (which has two), Iowa, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Outside the church is a cemetery where 30,000 Confederate soldiers are buried. The cemetery's entrance is marked by a huge granite arch. There are no weekly services conducted, but the church does hold wedding and summer services, as well as a Sons of Confederates Christmas program. This year's program is entitled, "The Winter of 1864," and letters from soldiers will be read. If you have the opportunity, visit this beautiful, amazing old church.

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