Market Street United Methodist Church
75 Market St. Onancock, VA 24417

Historic Cokesbury Church

History

Cokesbury Church and its congregation are an important part of the history of Onancock and of the entire Eastern Shore of Virginia.  The church grew out of  meetings in Onancock-area Methodist’s homes as early as 1784.  By 1788, when Rev. Francis Asbury visited William Seymour and preached in Onancock, the Methodists had formed a close fellowship.  This building is the oldest church building in Onancock.

SanctuaryBuilt in 1854 in the Greek Revival style to resemble a Greek temple, the church stands today remarkably close in form to the building as originally constructed.  The brick foundation is covered with scored stucco to imitate stone, and the weathered siding is distinguished by a finely detailed cornice and by Greek Revival corner block moldings.  The sanctuary’s barrel-vault ceiling contributes to its unusually beautiful quality of sound that delights both performing musicians and listeners.

Window   Stained glass memorial windows were installed in 1893 by thePhiladelphia firm of Alfred Godwin.  The Tiffany-like aura of the windows is attributed to the fact that Frederick Wilson, Godwin’s art director in 1893. became art director of the famous Tiffany Studio in 1894.  Godwin’s firm evolved into the Willet Art Glass Studio of today.

The Shore’s prosperous steamboat era prior to and just after the turn of the 20th C. is reflected by the church’s Victorian additions which fortunately did not overpower the original Greek Revival design.  As such, the present building exemplifies the two major construction practices of church architecture during the latter part of the 19th C.

OrganThe life story of Onancock’s two Methodist churches echoes the story of the nation during and after the Civil War era.  In 1864, Cokesbury members with Southern sympathies withdrew from Cokesbury to form a new group that became Market St. Church, while Cokesbury’s Northern-persuasion members remained at the present site.  The two churches functioned independently for more than 1½ centuries until Cokesbury’s dwindling membership was forced to discontinue services in 1996.  As a result of efforts begun in 2000 by several Market St. members to renovate/revitalize the 1854 structure as a Market St. mission project, the two churches are now united as Market Street Church brings new life to its mother church, Cokesbury.