Ambrose Chapel and Cemetery
Originally constructed in 1851 to replace an aging chapel, the Ambrose Chapel served the local Methodist population of Berkeley Springs. Additionally, the surrounding land was also used for burial purposes. During the Civil War, the chapel was used as a makeshift hospital for Confederate soldiers led by Stonewall Jackson. Though church services stopped in 1920 and the cemetery has not been used since approximately 1950, the Ambrose Chapel and Cemetery were added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 15th, 1998, for the chapel's use in the Civil War and for being a relatively unchanged example of a typical church of the area during the mid-nineteenth century.
Backstory and Context
Locals William Henry Ambrose and his son William Hanby were two of the first 100 ordained ministers of the United Brethren in Christ faith, the first denomination to be born on American soil when the first conference was officially founded in 1789. Devout Ambrose donated one acre of his own land so that a chapel could be constructed to host sermons for any group who preached the gospel of Jesus. Members of the local United Brethren in Christ group aided in the construction of the original chapel, which was used by circuit riders from the Albright Brethren, the United Brethren in Christ, and Methodist faith to host sermons in the late-eighteenth to early-nineteenth centuries.
During the mid-nineteenth century, the chapel was exclusively used by Methodists, and the old chapel was replaced with the current chapel in 1851. The current chapel was used to host sermons until 1920. The chapel is a 1 1/2 story rectangular church with hewn log framing, stone foundation, and metal roof. One feature that distinguishes this chapel from others in the area was the inclusion of a two-door facade, though other United Brethren and Methodist churches in other areas do feature the two-door facade. Additionally, during the Civil War, the chapel was used as a makeshift hospital for Confederate soldiers led by Stonewall Jackson who were injured in nearby skirmishes that took place near New Year's Day of 1862.
The accompanying graveyard was used between 1839 and 1950. A number of the gravestones are illegible, as they were made of local creek stones, but there are several legible stones and monuments made from sandstone and marble with typical engraved designs, such as willows, hands, roses, doves, and heavenly gates.
Though church services stopped in 1920 and the cemetery has not been used since approximately 1950, the Ambrose Chapel and Cemetery were added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 15th, 1998, for the chapel's role in the Civil War and for being a relatively unchanged example of a typical church of the area during the mid-nineteenth century.
Robertson, James I. Jr. The Stonewall Brigade. Louisiana State University Press.
Sherrad, Brent. Ambrose Chapel, National Register of Historic Places. December 15th 1998. Accessed October 20th 2019. http://www.wvculture.org/shpo/nr/pdf/morgan/98001470.pdf.