Chesterfield Trinity Church

The first church on this site was called Central Church, erected in 1855 on land owned by the Reverend George Nolley and his wife.   It was an unusually large church which included a gallery for African-American members. Among the local population, the church became known as “Nolley’s Folly,” many residents believing it had been a joke to build such a large church. Central Church only lasted a few decades.  Loss of membership during the Civil War, when soldiers left and did not return, resulted in its demolition in 1871. At the time, the Methodist congregation’s closest church was located at Zion Hills, five miles away.  By 1887, the Chester and Chesterfield congregation determined they had enough members to support another church. Historic Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church South was built by Sam Ellison, a merchant and florist, on the former site of Central Church which land was, by then, owned by the Cogbill family.  On September 8, 1887, the corner stone was laid in the presence of a large gathering.  It served its congregation for 100 years until October 1987 when the congregation relocated and the building was purchased by Chesterfield County.  Since July 2013, the Chesterfield Historical Society of VA head office and research library have operated out of Historic Trinity Church.

Presently, the Chesterfield Historical Society of Virginia is utilizing the building as its headquarters and library.  The Society moved from Historic Castlewood, ca. 1817-1819, which sits nearby to the church just across Krause Road and was once the parsonage for the Methodist. In the mid 1800s, the Methodist parsonage in Manchester was sold and with only $500 from their share of the deal, the local people selected Chesterfield to become the site to start anew and purchased Castlewood.  It was used as the parsonage for about twelve years in the mid19th century, and especially used by the traveling Methodist ministers during the time of Trinity’s existence as a church. All structures, especially historic buildings, have a timeline of existence.   

Prominent people of Chesterfield County once sat in the old congregations.  Marcus A. Cogbill, (1842- 1900) was a Chesterfield County Clerk of the Court from 1874-1900. He served as a private in the Confederate Army during the Civil War under his uncle, Captain WWT Cogbill, who had also been a Clerk of the Circuit Court.  After the war, Marcus Cogbill purchased “Magnolia Grange” and became the Deputy Clerk of Chesterfield County Court under his brother, Nathan Hale Cogbill.  He married Emma Perdue Moody.  Marcus and Emma Cogbill attended Trinity church and were quite active and a deacon in the congregation. 

Events at Historic Trinity Church

April 2, 2022

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