Dating Back To 1836, The Ebenezer Chapel Is Among The Oldest Surviving Buildings In West Virginia
One of the oldest buildings in West Virginia is nearing its two hundredth birthday. The Kanawha Valley’s Ebenezer Chapel, located in the small town of Marmet, West Virginia right along Interstate 64 south of Charleston, was built between 1936 and 1842 on land purchased in 1936 by a Mr. Leonard Morris. Despite its age (up to 185 years!), it is still standing and in relatively good repair, although not currently being used.
How has this small old building stood the test of time? Its stable condition is largely thanks to its solid foundation of large, handhewn stones.
The chisel cut marks on these stones can still be seen. Interestingly, the mortar used between these stones was made of crushed mussel shells! Now that's something you won't find on a modern stone building.
Leonard Morris was one of the first settlers of the Kanawha Valley, an area that drew settlers because of the nearby salt mines. He wanted his settlement to be prestigious, and one thing it needed was a church. Enter the Ebenezer Chapel.
In 1948, he sold the Ebenezer Chapel for $648 to Luke Wilcox, a local farmer and manager of the salt works, who declared that “all good denominations” could use it. The United Methodist Episcopal was the primary denomination to utilize the chapel; ten different UME circuit riding ministers preached there from 1844 to 1854.
But it wasn't only used as a church in its history. During the Civil War, this building became a military headquarters and hospital for both the Union and Confederate Armies.
In September 1862, while occupied by the Union Army, a skirmish damaged the chapel with a cannon ball fired by the Confederates. The Confederates under General Loring desperately needed the salt found here and succeeded in routing the Union Army from the area. They occupied the chapel for six weeks, until the General received orders to return to Richmond. He misunderstood the orders and took all his soldiers with him, giving the Kanawha Valley back to the Union Army. When the Union soldiers learned that a local man, Jacob Edleman, had assisted the Confederate Army by grinding grain for them, they arrested and jailed him for 3 days in the chapel. He was released when he proved that he was a German immigrant, not a citizen, and did not support either side of this uniquely American civil war.
Ebenezer Chapel was listed on the National Register of Historic Place in 1974 and thereby saved from being torn down to make way for the nearby West Virginia Turnpike. It is now owned by the Elizaville Historical Society and is not open to the public.
You can see it from Interstate 64, though, if you know where to look, or you can drive near it on Ohio Avenue in Marmet, West Virginia south of Charleston.
Did you know the history of the Ebenezer Chapel? The Kanawha Valley is full of interesting historical sites – visit
this house museum to learn even more about the area!
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Ebenezer Chapel, 9805 Ohio Ave, Marmet, WV 25315, USA