To the Glory of God
and in Memory of Lutheran Pioneers.
Erected by members and friends of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church
Winchester, Va. 1938.
These walls are the sacred ruins of the first Lutheran Church erected in Winchester - "Die teutsche Lutherische Gemeine in Winchester in der grafschafft Freiderich in dem staate Virginien."
The land was given by Thomas Lord Fairfax, by patent dated May 15, 1753, to David Dieterich, Jacob Seibert, Christopher Lambert and George Michael Laubinger, trustees "for the use of the people called Lutherans in the County of Frederick." The corner stone was laid April 16, 1764. Walls and roof completed in 1772. Building fully completed in 1793. Destroyed by fire September 27, 1854.
The congregation was admitted to the Ministerium of Pennsylvania in 1762, and the Rev. Carl Frederich Wildbahn was the first authorized minister. He was forced by the Indians, whose depredations interfered with his work and the building of a church, to retire to Conewango, Pa. Only visiting ministers thereafter, preached here. Among them Major-General the Rev. Peter Muhlenburg of Woodstock, Va. until the Rev. Christian Streit became the regular pastor on July 19, 1785. He had served as a chaplain of the 8th Va. Regt. Continental Line during the Revolution and was the only dissenting minister to hold the commission of chaplain of Virginia troops. He is buried near the east wall of these ruins. During the Revolution the church was used as a barracks for American troops. The two bells in the tower were cast in Bremen, Germany, and were the first to call people to worship in Winchester. One of the bells still serves the present congregation. The old church contained the first church organ in this community. Here in 1800 was organized the synod of Maryland and Virginia.
A document written in Latin, subscribed by the Rev. Johann Caspar Kirchner, officiating minister, Ludwig Adamus, scribe, and Antony Ludi, school master, placed in the corner stone preserved the names of the founder as follows: Thomas Schmidt, Nicolaus Schrach, Christoph Heuschel, David Dietrich, Christoph Wetzel, Peter Helfenstein, Geo. Michael Laubinger, Heinrich Becker, Jacob Braun, Stephen Fraenchel, Christoph Autith, Tobia Otto, Eberhard Doring, Andreas Friedlt, Christoph Heintz, Imanual Burger, Dewald Hiegel, Jacob Trautwein, Joh. Sigmond Haenli, Johannes Levley, Johannes Lentz, Christian Schumagher, Michael Rodger, Michael Warning, Christoph Lamert, Samuel Wendel, Michael Gluck, Julius Spickert, Balthaser Po, Jacob Koffenharber, Heinrich Weller, Christian Newberger.
Notable contributors to the building fund were Col. George William Fairfax, Col. William Byrd III of Westover and the Hon. William Nelson of Yorktown.
"Tell ye your children of it, and let our children tell their children and their children another generation."
Joel 1. 3.
This "Old Church Wall" of the original Lutheran church
was stabilized and restored through the generosity of
the members of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church
and the citizens of
Winchester, Frederick County, and Clarke County
with special acknowledgment to
Boy Scout Troop 1
Mount Hebron Cemetery Board of Managers
Preservation of Historic Winchester
R. A. Restorations
The Shockey Companies
Woltz Charitable Foundation