A fire ravaged historic Shiloh Baptist Church in Brandy Station on Saturday night.
The Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office alerted residents to the blaze about 6:30 p.m. via its Facebook page, warning of traffic delays on Stevensburg and Brandy roads as fire trucks responded to the emergency.
The building, at 15060 Stevensburg Road, was still burning four hours later.
The church was the heart of Brandy Station’s African American community. It sat near the intersection of Bel Pre Road and Stevensburg Road
“This is a disaster,” said Culpeper County historian Clark B. Hall, who has long been familiar with the village of Brandy Station. “This is an incredibly vibrant church, boasting a large and faithful congregation.”
On Facebook, church members posted that the church had lost everything but its congregation’s memories.
Isaiah J. Poole of Washington told the Star-Exponent he learned of the fire from relatives.
“My grandfather, Rev. Harvey Lewis, was pastor of that church for a period of time,” he said via email.
Poole said a stained-glass window in the church was dedicated to his mother.
“I hope that you will be able to publish the facts behind this fire, which has devastated a church that means a lot to the Brandy Station community,” he wrote.
“My heart is sad tonight because family history, windows in the church with deceased family members names, teaching and preaching the word there and Homecoming, a family tradition …” Melanie Taylor posted on the church’s Facebook page.
“Unbelievable, this is the reason to appreciate what you have because you never know when you will lose it, or it’s gone. So sad.”