This tiny Virginia chapel, with a century-old history, could be your new home

Posted at 12:37 PM, Jun 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-08 12:37:41-04

HOPEWELL, Va. — If you’re in the market and have the money, there's a unique opportunity up for sale nestled in a centuries-old historic Hopewell neighborhood.

City Point, where the Appomattox and James Rivers come together, was used as a port as early from the late 1600s until the early 20th century, according to Historian Jimmy Blankenship.

And just a few blocks from where history has been made over and over again through the centuries sits St. Denis Chapel, up for sale.

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It's the tiniest of former churches, but it's not just a former Catholic church.

"You just walk in and you're in a different world," Jennie Dotts, a historic properties realtor, said.

Robin Somers-Strom with the Historic Hopewell Foundation said, "We trust that someone will put it to better use, either as a very unusual home, perhaps a museum or an Airbnb.”

Its history is as unique as its location, thanks to the U.S. Navy.

"The U.S. Navy was still in the area [in 1887] and they would come up to City Point because it’s freshwater," said Blankenship. "The freshwater would kill the barnacles off the bottom of the ships.”

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One of the Navy commanders decided he wanted a church because a lot of the sailors were Catholic.

On July 7, 1887, Bishop John Keane of the Diocese of Richmond purchased the lot to build a chapel.

"The chapel was for the sailors and their families," said Blankenship.

Sixteen years later, the U.S. Navy no longer needed City Point, so in April 1903 the little chapel was sold.

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"For many decades a family lived here," Dotts said.

Then it was used and maintained by the Historic Hopewell Foundation.

"We would have liked very much to have held onto it but the cost of maintaining it, we’ve done a great job of keeping it up, but we don’t really have a purpose for it anymore," Dotts said.

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Now — 136 years after it was built — it’s back on the market.

"It’s so unique, it’s so absolutely unique," said Dotts.

"There’s no way to calculate that value for history, but it has the marketing appeal, in that people who love history, who want to connect with the past," said Blankenship.

"I love historic structures. I think city point is a really great area, so being able to live in a really cool house with a lot of history is just really appealing to me," potential buyer Alexcia Cleveland said.

It's a blank slate with a bright future.

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