South River Meeting House
The Quaker Connection
Notes and Note Pads
In the mid-eighteenth century, pioneer Quakers settled in this area. Sarah
Clark Lynch in 1754 invited her neighbors to worship in her home. South River
Meeting House was organized in 1757.
Sarah Lynch gave two acres of land for
the Quakers’ first log meeting house.
The first meeting house burned in 1768, and a framed building was erected.
Within 25 years the increased membership made necessary the building of a larger
In 1791, John Lynch, Founder of Lynchburg, gave 10 acres of land "for
the use ...of the People called Quakers...to hold, use and enjoy...Build and
uphold and repair the premises for the purpose of Divine worship, regulation
of church discipline. Burying Grounds and Education of the Youth..."
Completed in 1798, the stone building remained the site of Quaker worship and
activity until the 1840’s.
Eight of the eleven original trustees of Lynchburg were Quakers who worshipped
at South River Meeting House.
John Lynch and other early leaders of the community are buried in the adjacent
historic cemetery. South River Quakers were among the first in the South to
In 1772, members of this meeting were forbidden to purchase
or hire Negro slaves. To do so meant certain disownment from the South River
Quakers began to leave the area in large numbers in the 1820’s due to economic
hardship, opposition to slavery, and the inevitability of war. Most went to
Ohio and other free states. (some settled in North Carolina).
The meeting house was abandoned and began to fall into ruins.
This symbol of peace became the site of much of the action of the Battle of
Lynchburg on June 17-18, 1864. Union officers made nearby Sandusky their headquarters,
and their troops encamped near the ruins of the Meeting House.
In 1899, the Presbyterians rescued the building from complete destruction
when they purchased the ruins and 10 acres from the Society of Friends. The
Presbyterians rebuilt the ruins for use as their church and held their first
service in 1901. This restored church was named Quaker Memorial Presbyterian
Church in honor of its Quaker heritage.
With completion of a new sanctuary and church school rooms in 1950, the Presbyterian
congregation voted to make the South River Meeting House a historic shrine.
The Meeting House and Cemetery were named Virginia Historic Landmarks and placed
on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
Completed in 1990
The Bicentennial Committee for the Restoration of the South River Meeting House
was organized in 1983 for the purpose and preservation of the South River Meeting
The restoration was made possible by consultation with many experts in the
fields of Quaker history and historic restoration and preservation. The work
was done as professionally and authentically as possible.
We invite you to join us in preserving the most significant remaining link
with the Quakers who settled our city.
A written self-guided tour of the Meeting House is available from the secretary's
office of the quaker memorial presbyterian Church, 5810 Fort Ave. between 9
a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday (except for major holidays).
Guided tours - most with costumed docents - are available with three days
advance notice, Monday through Friday. To arrange a tour, please call the church
office at (434) 239-2548. See days and hours listed above.
Meeting House note cards (with envelopes) and note pads are available in both
the Meeting House and the church's workroom.
Copies of Lynchburg's Pioneer Quakers and Their Meeting House, written by
Douglas Summers Brown, are available in the church secretary's office.