While the great majority of Americans cherish the freedom to worship according to the dictates of one's conscience, it is likely that most know little of the events that secured that right. The first legislative body in the world to adopt a statute of religious liberty was Virginia in 1786. But, the struggle for religious toleration, and ultimately freedom, began four decades earlier in Hanover County, Virginia.
In 1990 the Presbytery of the James, successor to Hanover Presbytery which had been founded at Polegreen in 1755, authorized the creation of a non-profit foundation, ecumenical in nature, to preserve, enhance and interpret the site of Polegreen Church. The first objective of the foundation was to locate the remains of the colonial church. Archaeologists from Virginia Commonwealth University oversaw the effort, and the remains of the church's foundation were revealed. On the basis of the physical evidence of the church's location and the easily documented record of the important events related to the Hanover Dissenters and Samuel Davies, in 1991 the U.S. National Park Service listed the Polegreen site in the Register of National Historic Places.
The Polegreen Foundation has been the grateful recipient of the advice and counsel of the staff of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Through them the services of internationally known architect Carlton Abbott were obtained. Abbott designed the present unique enhancement over the site of the ancient Polegreen Church. For the first time in 137 years there is something to see on the place which represents one of the great chapters of American history. With growing concern over urban sprawl, which had already begun to have an impact on the surroundings of the old church, the Foundation set out to acquire the viewshed around the original site. To date nearly 110 acres have been preserved.
The Foundation welcomes you into its enlarging family. We hope you will be captivated by the preservation and interpretation of one of America's most important historic sites.
By 2018, the 275th Anniversary of the founding of Polegreen Church, the Foundation will be recognized for its leadership in the historic interpretation of civil and religious freedom in Colonial Virginia through preservation of the site, community outreach and educational programs.
To preserve the historic Polegreen Church site and commemorate the struggle for civil and religious freedom in Colonial Virginia by Rev. Samuel Davies and the Hanover Dissenters.
To what end: By accomplishing this mission, we preserve the memory of Hanover Dissenters who struggled courageously and successfully for civil and religious freedom in Virginia and in so doing increase appreciation for the liberties that we enjoy today in the United States.
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For general information or questions, please contact:Mailing Address: P.O. Box 2111
Mechanicsville, Virginia 23116Phone: