Old Donation Church is the third Lynnhaven Parish Church, and is the oldest church in Virginia Beach. Records show that the parish’s first church services were held in 1637 in the home of Adam Thoroughgood. The first church building was constructed on Mr. Thoroughgood’s land in 1639 on the location later known as “Church Point.” The vestry, or governing body of the church, was established in 1640.
By 1691 the church building had begun to deteriorate, and the land around the church was slowly being eroded by the Lynnhaven River. The vestry approved the building of a new church on two acres of land purchased from Ebenezer Taylor. The second Lynnhaven Parish Church was completed in 1692.
As the parish grew the second church was no longer able to meet the needs of the larger congregation. In 1733 the vestry ordered the building of a new church that could accommodate the parish’s needs. The third church was accepted by the vestry on June 25, 1736.
Princess Anne’s population center gradually shifted to Kempsville on the banks of the Elizabeth River, a far superior channel over the silting up Lynnhaven. By 1856 Emmanuel Church had drawn away the remainder of the Old Donation’s Church congregants, and the Old Donation Vestry held their last meeting in March 1856.
After the Commonwealth of Virginia passed a law that churches and chapels formerly owned by the Church of England and not used within a calendar year reverted to the ownership of the Commonwealth, different folks from Emmanuel Episcopal Church made annual pilgrimages to the church to hold services. When in 1882, a fire had all but destroyed the church; the Reverend Thurmer Hoggard IV (1819-1902) took over this responsibility.
In 1911 an organization was founded to raise funds to rebuild Old Donation. Through the enthusiastic and tireless efforts of the Rev. Richard Alfriend and Judge B. D. White, construction began in 1912. Restoration of the church was completed in 1916, and Old Donation was, once again, open for services. The church’s bell tower was erected in 1923. Old Donation underwent major repairs in the 1960s to ensure the building’s structural integrity. It was during this time that the slate floors were installed. These renovations were completed in 1966. Old Donation is included on the National Register of Historic Places.
You are invited to read further about notable people of the church, their historic homes, and general history surrounding Lynnhaven Parish Church which was renamed Old Donation to memorialize Reverend Robert Dixon’s (1716 – 1777) faithful stewardship of the church’s orphan boys school for 28 years and his donation of his estate, Donation Farm, for continuation of the school. As is true of any family that has existed more than 385 years, our history has heroes and some of them have "clay feet." We are aware that our history has good, bad and some ugly. We pray all the time that knowing and telling the Truth and allowing God's Holy Spirit to cleanse and redeem, we are able to continue do God's work faithfully in the healing of our world.
The website http://1bob9.blogspot.com has
the following topics:
1. Our Rich History - updated with the most current
2. Celebrating Our Church History
– a listing of church accomplishments.
3. African American Tour –
a drive-around touring African American sites.
4. Old Donation History - updated
from the 375th anniversary book.
5. Notable Church Women - 18 women
spanning from Sarah Thoroughgood-Gookin-Yeardley to Associate Rector, The
Reverend Ashley Urquidi.
6. The Time Capsule – the 1916 Cornerstone and Time Capsule and its replacement in 2016 with keepsake
or relics for the next 100 years.
7. Tour Inside the Church and a Walk Around the Church
– a tour inside the church and walk around the church through the
8. You Are There - Going back in time to those
special events that made history.
9. Obituaries – obituaries from current back to James Sherwood-1701.
10. Virginia Slavery – stories of indentured servants,
slaves, and segregation up to 2021.
11. Cemetery Old Section - pictures of
graves and genealogies.
12. Genealogy – lists of genealogies by Alice Granbery
Walter, the Colonial Vestry Book (1723-1786) and more.
13. The Grace Sherwood Stone
– Dedication and Blessing of the Grace Sherwood Stone July 10th 2014.
14. Moseley Grave Ceremony -
DAR Commemorating Colonel Edward Hack Moseley (1743- 1814) and other
early church founders.
15. Old Homes – pictures and narrative of the
historical homes of Lynnhaven Parish Parishioners
16. Virginia's Fight for Democracy
- eleven Virginians who fought for our democracy, up through our veterans who
fought and died in 20th century wars.
17. First 100 Years - the seventeenth
century in Hampton Roads.
18. The Golden Age of Lynnhaven Parish
Church - The eighteenth century.
19. Church Tales and Ghost Stories
weaving historical fact with endings that have ghosts and spirits helping
things along, and remaining around to haunt and cause mischief.
20. Jun 1st 2019 Bus Tour to Local
Historic Sites – Historical Traditions bus tour around local sites.
21. Cape Henry - Men's Breakfast
– local history and some in which members of Old Donation Church participated.
22. Library Books - historical books and folders
with newspaper articles, publications, writings, etc. Please inquire in the
church office about access to these books and folders.