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Historic open house this Sunday

A landmark church in Chuckatuck is inviting the community to connect with history this weekend.

St. John’s Episcopal Church will host a community open house this Sunday in honor of its 375th anniversary in June. The open house is meant to give visitors a taste of colonial times and allow church members to introduce its history to the uninitiated in the community.

According to the Rev. Les Ferguson, artifacts and written records will be on display that date back to the 1800s. The vestry record of council members dates back to the 1800s, while the parish register goes back as far as 1844 and includes baptisms, weddings and burials.

“It’s part of the history of the northern portion of Suffolk, and it really documents some of the cultural heritage,” Ferguson said. “It gives a snapshot as to what this community was like.”

He said the records will also resonate with local families that have spent generations in the community.

“It will allow people to connect between present day families and families around during the Civil War and before. It gives us a connection with our past, for the people that live in North Suffolk and Chuckatuck and Oakland.”

Tours will be held to show visitors the distinct facets of the church building that’s been in use since 1755. They will see the interior woodwork of trees cut locally, and walls made of five courses of brick laid in Flemish Bond pattern that are approximately 2 feet thick.

The center aisle inside the church was built using ballast stones taken from sailing ships during the 1700s, Ferguson said.

“The building is essentially as it was in 1755,” Ferguson said.

St. John’s was founded around the same time in the 1700s as Glebe and St. Paul’s churches. St. John’s and Glebe united to form the Suffolk Parish in 1725, and for centuries the two congregations shared preachers.

During those early years, the church was responsible for local education, taking care of widows and orphans and settling land disputes. Ferguson said the congregation is motivated to open their doors and continue that tradition of community service.

“We’re still here doing the same basic things we were doing years ago: taking care of people by reaching out and providing a place where they can come and find sanctuary,” he said.

Tours will be from 3 to 4 p.m. this Sunday, followed by a presentation at 4 p.m.

Call 255-4168 for more information.