The Old Salem
Meeting House, Oldest Building in Marshall
Local Historian John K. Gott and the Historic
Old Salem House (as told to J.D. Phillips, October
Fauquier Heritage & Preservation Foundation,
Inc. was organized July 27, 1993 and for five years
was granted the use of the Maddox building. In the
spring of 1996, the Salem House was purchased by
the Old Salem Preservation Foundation. In 2000,
the Old Salem Preservation Foundation and the Fauquier
Heritage Society became known as Fauquier Heritage
and Preservation Foundation. It is located at 4110
Winchester Rd, Marshall, Virginia. They can be reached
at (540) 364-3440. The library is open to the public
for research purposes Tuesday through Thursday,
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Other hours may be scheduled by
appointment if requested at least one week in advance.
John K. Gott is available for personal interviews
at the library every Wednesday.
The Fauquier Heritage & Preservation Foundation
To discover, procure, and preserve whatever may
be related to the history of Fauquier County, Virginia,
and to the genealogy of Fauquier County families,
and to educate and disseminate this knowledge to
local residents, students, and to the general public.
A Brief History of the Historic Old Salem House
The Old Salem House is Marshall's oldest building.
Fauquier County's sole remaining colonial church
building and the oldest structure erected exclusively
as a Baptist meetinghouse in the Commonwealth of
Virginia. Constructed in 1771 as the meetinghouse
of the Upper Carter's Run Baptist Church, it soon
became the center of activity in the region. The
first minister to preach was Elder John Monroe,
M.D. Elder Monroe was also a skilled surgeon and
the owner of the 30 acres, about which he would
eventually petition the Assembly with a proposal
"for erecting a town". In 1772, the church
is mentioned in Morgan Edwards' Material toward
the History of the Baptists in Virginia. Edwards
was the first Baptist historian in America. He had
been appointed by the Philadelphia Baptist Association
to tour the south in the 1770s. In 1772, he wrote
that "at the head of Carter's Run where there
is a house 40 feet by 24, built in 1771". This,
then was the Upper Carters Run Church at present
day Marshall. The main reason for the church's decline
was undoubtedly Elder Monroe's move to Hampshire
County, in what is now West Virginia. About 1809,
the church faded away and ceased to exist.
The building became the school for the new town
of Salem (currently Marshall), which was established
in December 1796 by the General Assembly. Salem
was not platted and put on record until spring of
1797. The school continued as a semi-private institution
until 1871, when free public schools were established
in Virginia. The trustees deeded the property to
the school district board, when it became know as
the Old Stone Academy. In 1887, a frame addition
was added to the old stone portion to serve as enrollment
increased. It continued to serve as a public elementary
school until 1909. Every church was organized in
this building until 1997. Other notable organizations
having had their beginnings in the stone meetinghouse,
including the Salem Lodge 81 A.F. & A.M., whose
first master was Dr. Isaac Henry, the husband of
the first female fatality of the Civil War, Mrs.
Judith (Carter) Henry.
The organizational meetings of the Manassas Gap
Railroad were held in the building. In 1851, the
first meeting of the directors was held. During
the Civil War, it was used as a hospital for the
wounded after the First and Second Battles of Manassas.
Political activities of local and national interest
were held on the lawn of the Salem House. In the
1830s and 1840s, both Democrats and Whigs held political
rallies here. In 1860, the only vote for Abraham
Lincoln in Fauquier County was cast by Henry Dixon
in Salem Precinct, located in the Salem Meetinghouse.
After voting, Mr. Dixon went to Alexandria and joined
the Union Army, at the age of 61. While serving
in the Union Army, he never fought in a battle,
as he was the paymaster. In 1866 or 1867, Henry
Dixon fought in the final duel held in Alexandria.
When the Post Office Department decreed that the
town should change the post office name of Salem,
the community met in the Old Stone Academy (as it
was affectionately called) in March of 1882 and
selected the new name for the town, which was Marshall.
In the spring of 1905, the Marshall National Bank
was organized in the dingy, gloomy, musty old school
house with its knife-marked and ink-stained desks
and its two smoky oil lamps. Where children of the
neighborhood assembled during the day to sit at
the feet of two teachers that Marshall had boasted,
the fathers of the community met in the evenings
to organize the bank.
The building was vacated in 1909. When the new
school was built, its new cupola received the old
bell from the 1887 addition of the Old Stone Academy.
Today the bell awaits replacement on the restored
In 1921, W.H. Watts, the local railroad station
agent, converted the building into an attractive
bungalow. There have been three owners of the home
since the 1940s, when Mrs. Effie B. Watts sold the
property. With contributions raised locally and
a loan from Marshall National Bank and Trust Company,
the building and property were purchased from a
private owner with the purpose of preserving this
historic 1771 building.