Waterford’s Baptists had met in private homes for some years before 1853, when a group of local men purchased a vacant lot on High Street for $60 and erected a handsome Greek-Revival building. The trustees were farmers Washington Myers, Thomas Rogers, George D. Smith, Jonah Orrison and C.M. Vandevanter, along with builder William Nettle, tradesman Presley K. Dorsey and saddler Asa Brown.
The congregation flourished in its new home, until the Civil War descended on a divided Waterford. Then, because a number of congregants were secessionist, including at least one firebrand minister, the building was taken over in the summer of 1862 by a locally raised federal cavalry unit, the newly formed Loudoun Rangers. That seizure and other actions drew the ire of Elijah V. White’s Rebel cavalry, most of them fellow Loudouners; and at dawn on the morning of August 27, they launched a surprise attack. The outnumbered federals barricaded themselves in the church and fought back until their ammunition ran low and mounting casualties forced their surrender. A month later, when the tide of battle had turned after Antietam, advancing Union forces again occupied the church for a time as a hospital. By the end of the war the building was a wreck. Bullets had torn through the front façade “as if through paper . . . and pews, pulpit, doors and windows, plaster and woodwork [had been] shot up.” Horses had been stabled on the lower level. The building did not reopen until 1876, when the church was “reorganized” and members raised funds to rebuild. A decades-long campaign to win compensation for damages caused by federal forces ultimately failed.
An entirely different picture of the church emerged in May 1909, at a reception for their new minister Mr. Templeton. “The decorations consisted of evergreens and cut flowers in great abundance. The room was brilliantly lighted with Japanese lanterns and other soft, beautiful lights, producing an effect of lasting beauty and fragrance. The Waterford orchestra was present and gave much pleasure to the occasion.”
Earlier that same year, when the old Waterford Academy across High Street burned, classes were held in the church until the school was rebuilt. The congregation overcame another challenge in recent years when a fire caused extensive damage. The members again repaired and the church continues to thrive.
The building is open courtesy of the congregation of the Waterford Baptist Church.