Written by Mikenna Pierotti
Celebrate your love and your faith in one of west Virginia’s beautiful places of worship.
Few settings rival the romance and serenity of a church in fall. Steeples point skyward, bright autumn leaves swirl underfoot, a quiet stone path leads to the front doors—places of worship offer a classic elegance and sense of tradition difficult to reproduce in even the grandest secular venues. Whether swathed in glimmering décor or left sweet and simple, a church wedding can bring community, regional history, and culture together in an unforgettable way.
West Virginia is a diversely religious state. In 2000 there were more than 4,000 churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples within our borders, including more than 1,000 Methodist, 400 Baptist, and 100 Catholic churches. The Mountain State claims a spectrum of spiritual settings to choose from, and affianced couples who crave faith- based ceremonies will find plenty of options, from Civil War-era white clapboard chapels tucked into quiet hillsides to cathedrals with soaring arches and vibrant frescos in the hearts of beautiful cities.
Here we highlight just a handful of churches with fascinating histories and breathtaking features from across the state to spark your imagination. Just remember: These are private facilities. Many places of worship have special requirements for couples who wish to wed on their properties. Call ahead to confirm any details before setting your heart on a location.
Onego Church of The Brethren
The landscape around this pristine white church is its own extraordinary experience. Just a few miles from the craggy mountain peak of local landmark Seneca Rocks, Onego Church (“one-go”), was built in 1908 and continues to stand in beautiful condition, despite weathering floods in 1985 and 1996—both of which destroyed the church’s basement but didn’t endanger the main structure. Outside, the building’s romantic tower and gabled roof cast a long shadow over a lush lawn, a rustic stonewall, and stone steps. Inside, the church has two aisles, rather than a single central aisle, and the conveniences of bathrooms and a kitchen.
➻ 3153 ALLEGHENY DRIVE, SENECA ROCKS.
St. John’s Chapel
One of the oldest Roman Catholic churches in West Virginia, St. John’s has been a fixture of Monroe County since at least the 1850s and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Instrumental in the church’s construction were William Lynn Lewis and his wife, Letitia Preston Floyd. Floyd was family to several prominent statesmen, including her grandfather, Virginia Governor John Floyd, and brother John B. Floyd, a Virginia governor who was secretary of war on the eve of the Civil War. Over the years this masonry Greek Revival-style church welcomed Irish immigrants, wealthy landowners, railroad workers, and African American slaves alike. And despite recent damage to the roof, church officials are rebuilding and plan to reopen it for weddings
➻ STATE ROUTE 311, SWEET SPRINGS. CONTACT THE DIOCESE OF WHEELING-CHARLESTON
Tygarts Valley Church
This Victorian-Gothic church listed on the National Register of Historic Places dates to 1883, and its 105-foot spire and rolled cathedral glass windows, imported from Scotland, still inspire awe. The church was born of a Presbyterian heritage active in the community since 1772, though the current building is a replacement for what was known as the Old Brick Church, built in 1820 and destroyed by Union forces during the Civil War. Noted bridge builder Lemuel Chenoweth built this Tygarts Valley Church— the first building west of the Alleghenies to be designed by an architect.
➻ U.S. ROUTE 219/U.S. ROUTE 250, HUTTONSVILLE
Glady Presbyterian Church and Manse
The picture of serenity, this 110-year-old Late Gothic Revival-style church and parsonage in Randolph County is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was constructed in 1905 by employees of the Glady Fork Lumber Company and still houses the potbellied stove and simple light fixtures of its early days. With a stone foundation, graceful arched doorways, metal gabled roof, and pyramidal steeple, it just might be the quintessential quiet country chapel. The manse, or minister’s house, was built in 1908 and is a two-story American foursquare with a hipped roof.
➻ RANDOLPH AVENUE, GLADY
Cathedral of St. Joseph
With its twin turrets flanking a cut glass rose window and a grand dome towering 148 feet over the streets of Wheeling, St. Joseph’s is a cathedral in every sense of the word. Inside, parishioners worship under an arched sanctuary ceiling decorated in colorful murals. Built in 1926 in the Lombardy-Romanesque style, the church cost nearly half a million dollars to complete. St. Joseph’s history, however, goes back to 1847, when the original cathedral was built. Although the original church no longer stands, St. Joseph’s has risen in its place and serves as the seat of both the Diocese of Wheeling- Charleston and as the oldest parish in the city.
➻ 1300 EOFF STREET, WHEELINg. Saintjosephcathedral.com
Baxter Presbyterian Church
In the summer of 1858, residents of Dunmore, many of whom belonged to Liberty Presbyterian Church in Green Bank, decided the five-mile commute to worship services had become impractical. It was time to build their own church. Allegedly named for the man who built it, Baxter Presbyterian has changed very little since its pre-Civil War construction, despite being used as a shelter by Union troops and as a hospital during nearby Civil War battles.