Mitchells Presbyterian Church

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The simple, Carpenter’s Gothic-style Mitchells Presbyterian Church in Culpeper County contains the most elaborate example of late-19th-century, folk-style trompe l’oeil frescoes in the state. Executed in the 1890s, or possibly earlier, by the Italian immigrant painter Joseph Dominick Phillip Oddenino, born in 1831 in Torino, Italy, the artwork is a curious transplant in rural Virginia of the ancient art of fresco, a common form of interior embellishment throughout Europe. The scheme is architectonic, consisting of a Gothic arcade on the side walls and an apse flanked by pairs of twisted baroque columns. The ceiling is painted to resemble beams framing rosettes. Mitchells Presbyterian Church was built in 1879 under the leadership of the Rev. John P. Strider. The frescoes, along with the church, underwent complete restoration beginning in 1979. Several other examples of Oddenino’s work remain in the region; Mitchells Presbyterian Church is the finest and most complete.

Last Updated: December 5, 2023

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VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark

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