A landmark of Montgomery County’s black religious community, the Big Spring Baptist Church was organized with the support of Capt. Charles Schaeffer, founder of the Christiansburg Industrial Institute, a training school for former enslaved individuals. Schaeffer, an agent of the Freedmen’s Bureau, was a northern Quaker educator who came to the area following the Civil War to equip Blacks to deal with freedom. While engaged in his educational activities Schaeffer also found time to organize several Black Baptist congregations, including Elliston’s Big Spring Baptist Church. Completed in 1880, the church, later renamed the First Baptist Church, was built by Joseph Pepper. With its front tower and Gothic windows, the building is a more ambitious structure than the usual country church, symbolizing the rapid transition of the area’s African Americans from chattel property to free citizens. The Big Spring Baptist Church continues to serve its congregation, now as the 1st Baptist Church of Elliston.
The Big Spring Baptist Church was listed in the registers under the Prehistoric and Historic Resources of Montgomery County MPD.
Many properties listed in the registers are private dwellings and are not open to the public, however many are visible from the public right-of-way. Please be respectful of owner privacy.
VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark