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A Preacher’s Home, in Perpetuity

January/February 2022

Our Communities is a story and picture feature that celebrates the spirit of co-op country. Have a submission that depicts your co-op or community? Contact [email protected].

From left, project volunteers Thelma Crowder, Lisa Jordan, Ann Keeling and Carol Corker Scan this code for more on the Dromgoole house PHOTO BY STEVEN JOHNSON

NEARLY 250 YEARS AGO, AN IRISH IMMIGRANT RODE HORSEBACK from community to community across Southside Virginia, helping to foster a religious revival. Now, Canann, the home of the Rev. Edward Drumgoole Sr., an essential figure in Methodism in America, is being preserved in history.

The Old Brunswick Circuit Foundation is restoring Drumgoole’s residence, which rests in the woods on 16 acres near Valentines. In late 2021, organizers won inclusion of Canann on the Virginia and national historic registers. There’s more work ahead in reconstructing the two-story, mortise-and-tenon timber frame house. It was ensnarled in vines and the first floor had fallen into the basement when the circuit foundation acquired it in 2008. “We had no idea what we were getting into,” laughs Thelma Crowder, then-chair of the foundation board.

In 2018, Hurricane Michael caused a sharp shift in the east chimney, which threatened to pull down the house because it was tied to it with timbers. Local builder Tom King performed temporary repairs; the state also provided the foundation with a $200,000 grant for stabilization and other work.

The Brunswick Circuit, which includes Southside Virginia and parts of North Carolina, is known as “the Cradle of Methodism in America.” The circuit on which Drumgoole rode is believed to be the singular, continuous reaching circuit in America. “There are religious aspects to this, but cultural and historical significance as well,” says Ann Keeling of the foundation board. “Ultimately, we’d like to develop it as a retreat and a place for tourism. We’re excited about the possibilities.”

For more, visit vaumc.org.oldbrunswickcircuit.