Beauty Abandoned

Trips to Europe provide a look back into history and culture.  So much so, that we forget sometimes to look at the aged treasures we have here.  Especially here on the East Coast, where our architecture is the envy of the western half of our country.  And yet, we're losing these treasures.  

Ruins are eternally fascinating.  The decay and abandonment have a romantic, even tragic appeal.  The small church in Lime Kiln, which I've driven past my whole life, is just such a creature.  I often wondered about its parishioners - are they still around?  Does it make them sad to see it in such disrepair?  Over the past few years the roof had started to go, and if you've ever observed abandoned buildings, you know that the roof going is the beginning of the end. 

So it was with a strange mixture of excitement, reverence, and sadness that I received the news from this landmark's owner that she had to tear it down...   and would I like to look at what's inside to see if I wanted anything.  Could she possibly have asked me anything more irresistible?!

church cornerstone

The church's cornerstone.  It was built one year before our house was (1889).  I believe it was a Methodist church.  The cornerstone is beautifully carved; it and the foundation are still in excellent condition.

The ivy growing over the entry is dramatic, but has been a contributor to the structure's downfall.

abandoned church red door

Those magnificent doors!  I would have loved to get them, but someone else had already purchased them.

The ceiling of the vestibule, looking back toward the front doors. I just love the color and the construction of the ceiling of this small anteroom.  That beaded board was a standard 100 years ago.  When you're in our Dairy Barn next, check out the ceiling of the first floor.  It's not a grid like this one, but the basic material is the same.

Looking from the vestibule, through the interior doors, into the main body of the church.  These doors will be coming to Chartreuse.  They're hinged with pins in the top and bottom of the door frame.  They're white on the church side, but that soft green of the vestibule on the reverse side.

The vestibule doors, looking into the church.  You can see here how the rotted wood and various wild life have covered the floor in dirt.  The church has been used (well before its current owner bought it) as a storage for cast-off furniture.  Of course I had a hay day!

While the damage was extreme, some of the stained glass remains.  The break in the walls is where the brick chimney once was (the brick remains in a large pile on the floor of the church.  The church was heated by wood-burning stove.  It had electric lights in the ceiling, but no water or central heat.

The old wood stove was stolen, but for many years that the church was active, it was the only source of heat.  A parishioner would have to arrive hours before service began to start up the stove on Sundays so that the church would be warm when everyone arrived.

Most of the windows are missing their glass, but the frames are still magnificent.  It was a humble church, but just look at the attention to detail and craftsmanship that was put into it. 

crown and cross of abandoned church

This simple painting was the only adornment inside the church.  It's a beautiful, quiet image, painted in the center of the back of the altar area.

ceiling of abandoned church

 The ceiling, looking up into the bell tower.  The bell is no longer there.

ceiling of abandoned church

It was clear that the church won't stand much longer.  The widow, on whose property it is, has begun to fear that it will fall and hurt someone.  And the curiosity-seekers who break in regularly worry her, too.

interior of an abandoned church

The church had been used as a storage facility for ages.  The newest furniture inside was circa 1940s.  The owner knew nothing of where all this had come from.  But she did know some of the original parishioners, who remembered attending church there.  When she bought the church, the pulpit was still there, but that, too has disappeared over the years.  

Here's a very brief video of the interior of the church, where you can see the alter area, where the painted image is, and how large the space is.

When you see an abandoned structure, if you'd like to see it up close, be sure to find the owner and ask permission.  It's almost always worth the effort, and many owners are delighted to share with you their stories and some of the beauty that they are custodians of. 

Thanks for reading,





  • Thank you so much for providing this history of the church. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

    Colleen Crowell
  • It is so sad. But I completely understand the owner’s decision. It was a hard one for her, but she’s truly fearful, and after the stove was pulled out and then stolen, I think the compromise to the roof was too much to overcome. So I document it and hope that its story will inspire other lovers of architecture to notice such structures before it’s too late.
    — Virginia

    virginia crum
  • Virginia, how sad to see this once noble structure worn down with time. My heart says “we can save this!”. But it does look like it would be way too hard.
    Hoping there’s some way to salvage the artwork: crown with cross. Or perhaps one of your talented friends could redraw it, to be framed.
    Now that Brad and I live in Missouri I miss coming out to your lovely venue more than ever. There is nothing like Chartreuse out this way.
    Hope the family is well.
    Joanne Crum, formerly from Bethesda

    Joanne Crum

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