Davis Memorial Presbyterian Church

Reaching out with the good news

Congregation History

In 1869, the first formal Presbyterian Congregation was established in the Elkins area (then known as “Leading Creek”), and worshipped in a restored building known as the “White Church”.  Although not completely renovated when the congregation began to use it, the White Church was one of the two buildings then existing on the site of the present city of Elkins.  Also it was the first Presbyterian church in the Lower Tygarts Valley to be rebuilt after the Civil War.  As the population of Elkins rapidly increased, so did the membership in the Presbyterian Church.  By the mid 1890’s, it was apparent the “Old White” Church building was no longer adequate for the needs of the growing congregation.  Senator Henry G. Davis, though then not a member of the Elkins Church, learned of the congregation’s needs.  On April 10, Senator Davis noted in his Journal:” I am thinking of building a stone Church at Elkins in Memory of Mother Davis.”  Senator Davis had given meticulous attention to every detail involved in the planning and construction of the building.  He wrote more than 90 letters between July 13, 1894 and November 18, 1895, to the architect, to furniture, glass, lumber, tile, hardware, and other companies.  Senator Davis conferred with his favorite brother, Colonel Thomas B. Davis of Keyser, about the project and decided to allow him to participate.  The Senator confided to his journal that “we are arranging to build a Memorial Church to our mother – it is to be of stone.”

On Sunday, September 29, 1895, former Senator Henry Gassaway Davis, sitting in the privacy of Graceland, his mansion on the hill above the Davis Memorial Presbyterian Church, noted in the Journal that, “Today Rev. Dr. Hoge of Richmond, Va., Dedicated the new Church & Sunday School at Elkins donated by my brother Thomas and myself to the Presbyterians in memory of our parents – especially Mother.”  He added that there were 800 to a 1,000 people present.

In 1920, the Christian Education portion of the building was constructed (present-day offices, and classrooms) to provide more classroom and fellowship space for an active congregation.

Since then, the building housed on the corner of Randolph Avenue and Sycamore Street has housed thousands or worship services, programs, and ministries that have nurtured the faith of a multitude of people. We are grateful for our beautiful building, but believe firmly that the church of Jesus Christ rests not in the beautiful stone walls, but rather in the hearts of faithful believers.  The church building is merely a resource (though beautiful and inspiring) that shapes our lives in service to our Lord Jesus Christ.