Old Meeting House Focus Of Fluvanna Preservation Efforts

Pictured is the Old Meeting House, located at 3502 Fluvanna Ave. Ext. The Fluvanna Community Historical Society is holding an event Saturday at 10 a.m. to recreate the oldest known photograph of Fluvanna. Photo by the Fluvanna Community Historical Society

The Old Meeting House has been a critical part of the Fluvanna community for more than 200 years. Now, the Fluvanna Community Historical Society is working to restore it.

The Historical Society is hosting a community photograph recreation event Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Old Meeting House, located at 3502 Fluvanna Ave. Ext. The event will recreate the oldest known photograph of Fluvanna and the Old Meeting House — believed to have been taken between 1890 and 1910. The event is also meant to connect people with the past, the community and a brighter future, and through the event the Fluvanna Historical Society is hoping to keep the Old Meeting House around for future generations.

President of the Fluvanna Historical Society, Richard Keefer, described the meeting house as being a part of Fluvanna and also a way to remember the people who were a part of the community before.

“The Old Meeting House has been at the heart of our community for nearly 200 years,” Keefer said. “This is the place, for generations, where the community went to school, learned and worshipped. … It’s here where they celebrated, mourned and lived out their lives together. It’s the place where people met as the community and to do the work of the community. A lot has changed over the course of two centuries, but the Meeting House has stood here throughout it all. It’s become part of the landscape. In many respects, the Meeting House is Fluvanna.”

Keefer also described those in the community of the past as idealists, working for a better future, which is something that the Historical Society is also working to do through this event.

The Old Meeting House is pictured at present. The property is in need of some repairs, most immediately to its roof. P-J photo by Nikk Holland

“While the early histories of the area often paint an idyllic picture of the first settlements and settlers of Chautauqua, as much as this may be true, American society at this time was bitterly divided and in crisis,” Keefer said. “Communities across the Nation would tear themselves apart.

But the people who settled in Fluvanna believed in the dignity and worth of every individual. They saw the world around them, bitterly divided in so many ways, and dared to believe there was a better way.”

According to Keefer, the people of the Fluvanna community in the past fought against many of the same problems the world is facing today, such as racism, gender inequality, pandemics and so forth, and the Old Meeting House was the place that they chose to come together and work on these problems as a community.

“Most critically, we’re restoring the Old Meeting House and retelling the history of Fluvanna because we need to remember what it means to be a community,” Keefer said. “… The people who settled Fluvanna encountered many of the same issues we’re grappling with now: racism, religious conflict, drug addiction, gender inequality, limited access to health care, pandemics, vaccination controversies, socio-economic disparities, social isolation … you name it. Their response, however, was to come together and work as a community. When others in the country, and even in this area, vilified and maligned their neighbors and those different from them, the people of Fluvanna made tangible efforts to treat each other as individuals worthy of respect and dignity. We especially need this message now. We need to learn from the past and learn more about each other. We need to reaffirm the values that unite us. The Meeting House is that one, unique place that best reflects and embodies our history and values. It’s the place where we can meet again and be a community.”

Those in both the Fluvanna and surrounding communities are encouraged to come out to the photo recreation event and help the Fluvanna Historical Society in making an effort to restore the Old Meeting House so it can remain a place for the community to come together for many years to come.

“At this time when we need this place most, the Meeting House needs us,” Keefer said. “The building is sound, especially considering it’s age, but we’re in desperate need to make certain repairs — most immediately to the roof. It’s crucial we make these repairs if the building is going to remain standing for generations to come. Plus, if we’re going to restore the Old Meeting House, not just as a museum, but as our revitalized Town Center, the building must be open and accessible to all. So we need help and if there’s anyone who can donate their time, skills or funds to help us re-create this historic space, please contact us right away. The Fluvanna Community photo recreation is our first step in demonstrating the love and support we have for this place and commitment to this community.”


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today