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Longs Chapel was built circa 1871  by local landowner Jacob Long, a member of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ who had opposed slavery, in accord with his church. The chapel was erected on land near to where "a congregation" of African Americans already were living on the site of a former plantation. The United Brethren church acquired the Longs Chapel tract in 1869 for the area's black community and specifically deeded it "for the purpose of a church, burial ground, and school house.”  
   Soon after the chapel's construction, African-American households, including those persons formerly enslaved, clustered in the vicinty of Longs Chapel. Eventually the community, originally named Old Athens but later renamed Zenda, grew to 17 households of 80 people by 1900, with a post office and general store. It thrived for many years, but by about 1930 Zenda was largely abandoned as residents had either died or relocated to other places, including nearby Harrisonburg as well as points beyond the central Shenandoah Valley.
   By the turn of the 21st century, the only vestiges of the Reconstruction-era Zenda community were its nearly vanished chapel and an overgrown graveyard behind the building.


Map by Dominic Bascone, DHR