Blandford Church is the “oldest structure in Petersburg with a clearly documented history.” It stands today as a memorial to Southern soldiers who died during the war. It was built from 1735 to 1737 on the highest point in Petersburg, Well’s Hill. Originally it was a rectangular structure, 60’ by 25’, and cost 485 pounds. The church was part of Bristol Parish, formed in 1643 by an Act of Assembly. The parish encompassed the land from the convergence of the Appomattox and James Rivers to Peter’s Point at the falls of the Appomattox, now Petersburg.
Many historic events occurred in this church. The famous preacher George Whitfield preached at the church in 1737. In 1799 a memorial service was held in the church for George Washington. Around 1805 the church was abandoned and the congregation began meeting in the new Episcopal Church in Petersburg on the site of the current Courthouse. The church played a significant role in Civil War Petersburg. Beginning in May 1862 the church served as a major telegraph station. During the Siege of Petersburg from June 15, 1864 to April 2, 1865 Blandford Church was hit by three shells. Its major use during the siege was as a hospital, most notably after the Battle of the Crater on July 30, 1864.
Between 1889 and 1905, the Ladies Memorial Association (LMA) paid for a speaker’s stand and 34 pews inside the church. The LMA of Petersburg is perhaps the “oldest continuous non-church related women’s organization in the United States.” In 1901 the City of Petersburg gave the church to the LMA, who restored it as a memorial to the Confederate dead. The LMA requested funds from the 11 Confederate states, Maryland, and Missouri for the windows. From 1904-1912 these states funded memorial windows to their soldiers that were designed and built by Louis Comfort Tiffany. On September 9, 1904 the Virginia, Missouri, and Louisiana windows were the first to be dedicated. Georgia dedicated the 15th and last window on November 18, 1912. Each of these 13 states donated windows, as did the LMA and Tiffany himself. These magnificent windows have made Blandford Church a national art treasure.
Blandford Church is on the National Register of Historic Places. The annual Commemoration of the Battle of Old Men and Young Boys on June 9th, 1864 is held here.
Hours are Thursday through Saturday from 10a to 5p and Sunday from 1p to 5p. Please call 804-733-2396 for more information or for group tours.