The Cradle of Methodism

The Old Brunswick Circuit Foundation - The Cradle of Methodism

Old Brunswick Circuit Foundation Map

The Old Brunswick Circuit Foundation is a tax exempt 501 (c) 3 organization formed in 2004 to identify, preserve and interpret significant sites on the old Brunswick Circuit—the first Methodist circuit in Virginia and one of the oldest in America. In 18th and 19th century America it was commonplace for clergy—usually Methodist—to travel preaching widely and to serve numerous congregations; the regions served by a preacher were called “circuits.” 

The old Brunswick Circuit was the first created as the Petersburg Circuit in 1773, but was renamed Brunswick the following year.  Rev. Edward Dromgoole described in a letter that at that time Virginia had “but one Circuit, which extended from Chesterfield County…to the north of Petersburg, to the south of Tar-River in North Carolina, including many counties, making several hundred miles to ride once around.” The Brunswick Circuit hosted major revivals in 1775-1776, a time in which the colony’s Methodist population almost doubled. This enthusiasm and growth of Methodism in the Brunswick Circuit greatly outpaced the rest of the nation and the region became known as “the cradle of Methodism.” 

The Old Brunswick Circuit Foundation currently owns or manages three of the many historic sites within the boundaries of the original circuit:
• Original campus of Randolph-Macon College, Boydton, VA—chartered in 1830
• Site of Ebenezer Academy, Warfield VA—first Methodist school in America, est bet. 1783-1793
• Rev. Edward Dromgoole House, Valentines, VA, circa 1790

Mission:  To preserve, record, interpret and sustain the heritage and impact of early Methodist church and school organizers through the interpretation of significant structures and sites within the historic Brunswick Circuit. 

Vision:  Provide a cultural resource that will be a vehicle to support heritage tourism, secondary and higher education, and scholarly interaction using core landmarks—at Ebenezer Academy, the original Randolph Macon College/Boydton Institute, and the Edward Dromgoole house—to illustrate their local and national impact on society, civil rights and education through a Bishop Francis Asbury Heritage Trail, site interpretation and/or structural preservation relative to each resource, and programed activities.

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Special thanks to Laurie Preston, Head of Reference at Randolph Macon College's McGraw-Page Library.

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