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The historical information for this blog is directly attributable to Friends of Pleasant Grove brochure and various old McLean Connection and McLean Patch newspaper articles.
The local Virginia scenic byways are a great way to enjoy nature’s spectacular display of fall colors. There are a number of long, winding roads in McLean to cruise down and take in the vibrant foliage. Just past the intersection of Spring Hill Road on the way to Route 7, there is a deep curve on Lewinsville Road that flows past one of the region’s truly historic structures - Pleasant Grove Church.
Located just across Lewinsville Road from the Jewett Farm, the little, white church with the red roof is an outstanding example of 19th-century Virginia vernacular architecture. The church is designed in the Carpenter Gothic style commonly used for Virginia country churches. It features a tall spire and belfry. The church is not only an architectural monument, but is also window into the lives of freed slaves and their descendants in the years following the end of the Civil War.
After the slaves were emancipated, many stayed and settled in McLean. They built schools and churches and established a vibrant community. One example of this development came in 1872. Alfred E. Odrick, a freed slave, bought 50 acres for $750 on Lewinsville Road near the intersection of Lewinsville and Spring Hill roads. He then donated his land across the street and helped to build a schoolhouse called the “Odrick School for Colored Children”.
FARTHER DOWN Lewinsville Road, in 1882, Samuel Sharper led the congregation of Pleasant Grove in raising funds to build a church. By 1893 they had raised enough money to purchase a piece of land and start construction. Lewis Henry Sharper, a master craftsman, did much of the work with the help of fellow church members. The first church service was held on July 10, 1896, and for the next seventy years served as the center of the community.
The church hosted many secular and religious celebrations until declining membership lead the parishioners to join William Watters Church. In 1980, the church was deconsecrated and sold. The new owner stripped the church of many of its architectural elements. The stained glass windows, bead board wainscoting, stamped tin ceiling and wall coverings disappeared.
The Friends of Pleasant Grove is a nonprofit organization chartered in 1982 by a group of neighbors to acquire and preserve the historic landmark. The Friends raised money to renovate the structure. In 1998, the Friends established a museum in the lower level. The Frances K. Moore Museum, named for a descendant of a church founder, displays a unique collection of late 19th- and early 20th-century household furnishings, tools, photographs and memorabilia from the Sharper family. The collection is an excellent representation of everyday life of a Northern Virginia agrarian community.
THERE ARE TWO OPPORTUNITIES to tour Historic Pleasant Grove this holiday season. On Thursday, Dec. 3, the Church will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. as part of the McLean Woman’s Club’s 49th Annual Holiday Homes Tour and Boutique. The 2015 Tour features four grand homes in three west McLean neighborhoods: the McLean Hundred, Woodside Estates and Millwood. The Boutique will feature a variety of gifts, beverages, baked goods, tour tickets and a silent auction. All proceeds of the tour and Boutique will go to local charities and nonprofits. The Annual Historic Pleasant Grove Church Christmas Carol Sing is planned for Sunday, Dec. 6, at 3 p.m.
Tickets for the tour are on sale for $25 at Mesmerelda’s in the Salona Village Shops and other local vendors. For more information: call 703-556-0197 or visit www.mcleanwc.org. For more information about the Friends of Historic Pleasant Grove Church please visit www.historicpleasantgrove.org.