A Brief History

St. Luke’s, also known as The Brick Church, The Old Brick Church, and Historic St. Luke’s Church, has enjoyed a long and vibrant history supported by a passionate community. Since 1953, Historic St. Luke’s Restoration, doing business today as St. Luke’s Historic Church & Museum, has been the steward of this American icon and treasure. As an IRS-recognized 501(c)3 non-profit, the Museum is dedicated to the preservation of this 43-acre national historic landmark. St. Luke’s partners with local churches to host periodic religious services while providing daily guided tours, special events, and lectures which satisfy its mission to preserve, promote, and protect St. Luke’s Church and the its surrounding cemetery and grounds.

When Was it built?

Local legend would date the completion of the church building to 1632. Scores of passionate people have treasured and passed down stories to following generations which support the 1632 date. Architectural historians, archaeologists, and historians have examined the evidence and now suggest a completion date between 1685 and 1687. Architectural historians feel comfortable with the claim that St. Luke’s remains Virginia’s oldest surviving church building.

What kind of architecture is the church building?

This very rare example of Artisan Mannerism Architecture from 17th-century Virginia is beloved and revered. There are romanesque, gothic, and Jacobean influences in the design. No known architect or original architectural renderings are associated with its design. Instead, construction is believed to have been undertaken by skilled artisans reflecting on examples from England.

How much of the church building is original?

The venerable church building has stood the test of time through the intervention of two preservation campaigns which restored and preserved the building from ruin. While the exterior is mainly original brick, the same can not be said for most of the building’s interior and interior furnishings.

What does this church building mean and symbolize?

Today, this National Historic Landmark, National Patriotic Shrine, and symbol of American Religious Freedom, continues to inspire and educate Americans about the importance of our 1st Amendment Rights and the unique nature of the American Constitutional Republic.

A pre-1880s photograph of the southern wall pre 1890s restoration.
“This monument to the founders of our country is in truth a national shrine.”President Dwight Eisenhower, October 12, 1956
1950s restoration
“I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”Thomas Jefferson
Contact the Education Department

Contact Rachel Popp, Education Coordinator, at (757) 357-3367 or via email at rpopp@historicstlukes.org with any questions about the Education Department or our many projects.