Historic St. John's Church
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Historic St. John’s Church is the first church built in the city of Richmond, Virginia. It was the parish church of Henrico Parish, established in 1611. In the 1730s the Henrico Parish vestry accepted land from William Byrd II, founder of Richmond, and in 1741 the church and burial ground were established on the present site. For decades the church was known, variously, as the Henrico Parish Church, the New Church, the Old Church, the Richmond Church, and the Church on the Hill. The earliest reference to St. John’s Church dates to 1829.
As tensions grew between the colonies and Great Britain in the 1770s, Virginia
held a series of meetings to organize its protests against the mother country.
In March of 1775, the Second Virginia Convention was held at St. John’s. Patrick
Henry, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Peyton Randolph, and other prominent
Virginians were delegates to the convention. Here, Patrick Henry embodied the
spirit of the Revolution on March 23, 1775, with his words, “Give me liberty … or
give me death.”
After the Civil War, the parish met some of the needs of the Freedmen on Church Hill by providing one of the first opportunities for African Americans to attend school in the brick schoolhouse on the church grounds. Today this building houses a visitor center.
St. John’s Church’s graveyard is the public cemetery in Richmond. Today there are approximately 400 visible grave makers; additional markers have been lost to time. It is estimated that over 1,300 people are buried here.
Please call the visitor center at 804.648.5015 to confirm availability. St. John's is an active Episcopal church.