College Church

College Church

1 College Road
Hampden-Sydney, Virginia 23943

A Hampden-Sydney legend has it that the strong-minded theologian-architect, Dr. Robert L. Dabney 1837, deliberately designed College Church (1860) in such a way that no such inappropriate thing as an organ could be put in it. The recess at the pulpit is just big enough for chairs. The pipe organ, installed in 1929, had to be placed in the balcony to prevent disturbing the lines of the sanctuary. However, Dabney may have had his just revenge, because in 1955 when the basement was being excavated, the west (front) wall of the church collapsed, partially exposing the organ. One of the most amazing things about the Church was that it was built in ninety days.

The interior of College Church is notable for its classic lines and simple but tasteful trim. The focal point and chief glory of the interior is the high pulpit, an appropriate feature in a plan drawn by an architect who was himself a master preacher. Much broader than the usual pulpit, it occupies the commanding place in the sanctuary.

College Church is designed like a Greek temple. The outside walls are decorated with pilasters. The motif of two columns in antis -- between piers -- was common in the 1850's. The outside columns are stucco over brick. One cannot get to the balcony from inside the church. This dates to the early church when the members' servants entered the church balcony from the outside.

It is interesting to note that the front left door is somewhat damaged. It is said that some Federal troops (perhaps Sheridan's) who came through the campus in 1865 broke into the church. The damage to the door has not been fixed, as a constant reminder of that intrusion.