Bruton Parish Church unveils a new look at the parish's rich history with the opening of its Heritage Center on February 18th at 331 West Duke of Gloucester St. Located in the 1938 parish house alongside the Bruton Parish Shop, the Heritage Center was dedicated in loving memory of Nancy W. Fogarty by the Rev'd Christopher L. Epperson, rector of Bruton Parish Church.
The Heritage Center is designed for welcome and education. Interpretive displays with text and photographs trace Bruton over time, from a Church of England parish in the colony of Virginia to a thriving 21st-century congregation of The Episcopal Church. Other subjects covered on colorful panels include notable visitors through the years, attending church in the 1770s, and parish life today.
On view at the Center is the original iron weather vane, removed from atop the steeple in 2011 for conservation by Colonial Williamsburg. Beneath the weather vane is a display showing the architectural evolution of the church building over three centuries, drawn from the work of historian Carl R. Lounsbury. A case for rotating display of some of the parish's symbols of faith stands on the back wall, adjacent to St. Mary's Chapel.
Another feature of the Center is information on access to digital versions of church records, dating back to the 17th century. Visitors can learn to view early parish registers and a guide to memorial markers in the churchyard, newly placed on the church's website and made possible by the support of Don and Elaine Bogus of Williamsburg.
The Heritage Center is designed to complement the experience provided by the Bruton Guides in the church. Both local residents and out-of town visitors can uncover Bruton Parish's constant presence in Williamsburg, weathering the winds of change for nearly 350 years. They can also be enticed by the inviting variety of merchandise in the Bruton Parish Shop, whose proceeds have benefited mission and outreach since 1995. The Bruton Parish Shop and Heritage Center is free-of-charge and open Monday-Saturday 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. and Sunday 12 noon-5:00 pm.
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