the Patron Saint of Scotland, St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in St.
Mary's County has been a familiar site to residents for 240 years.
Established in 1744 from two existing Episcopal parishes, All Faith
Parish and William and Mary Parish, it was to serve parishioners from
Breton Bay to Legrande's Creek and Poplar Hill Creek on the south side
of the parish.
In the 1700s churches were granted what were known as "freeholds." A
freehold was an estate or piece of land held in "fee" or for life.
Because the land granted to the new parish was part of an existing
freehold, St. Andrews could not officially become a functioning parish
until either of the rectors from the other two existing parishes died or
In 1752, Reverend Lawrence De Butts from the southern parish of William
and Mary died, allowing St. Andrews to begin electing vestrymen and
wardens. By 1753 the church was functioning as its own parish and held
services at the courthouse in Leonardtown. Almost 10 years later, in
1764, the reverend of All Faith Parish also passed away, freeing up the
northern portion of St. Andrew's Parish.
Within the old All Faith Parish was a "chapel of ease" known as Four
Mile Run Church located in what is now know as the Sandy Bottom area in
Hollywood, Maryland. A chapel of ease was just as its name implies, it
was a church within the bounds of a parish that served those who could
not reach the regular parish church conveniently or with "ease." The
Four Mile Run Church and its graveyard are no longer in existence, but
it served as St. Andrew's Parish church until a new church was built in
the late 1760s.
In 1766, Samuel Bellwood purchased two acres along a roadway, which was
part of a grant known as Waldrum's Old Field. Vestry records show that
Richard Boulton designed a plan stating, "The church to be 55-feet long
in the clear exclusive of chancel and 40-feet wide in the clear; to be
painted inside and outside, pews to be wainscoted and painted, pillars
to be fluted and capped; a handsome pulpit and reading desků." The
records go on to give detailed instructions for the entire church
structure, including the thickness of the foundation wall, which was set
at "three and a half bricks thick; from the water table to the eaves two
bricks and a half thick."
Richard Bolton, the man responsible for this detailed design was an
indentured servant to the Plater family, which owned Sotterley
Plantation at the time. He is also credited with building All Faith
Church in northern St. Mary's County and a Chippendale-style staircase
The Georgian-style structure was meant to reflect the symmetry and
simplicity of that style of architecture. Four doors access the
sanctuary with each serving the varied parishioners of the church. The
north tower door, accessed from the outside only, was for slaves. A door
in the matching tower was accessed just inside the main entryway and was
reserved for the poor or indentured servants. Both towers led to the
gallery, which is today used as the choir loft. The other doors were for
"pure rent" parishioners or those who contributed monetarily to the
church. Pews were numbered as well, and those who paid more to the
church sat closer to the altar and had lower numbered pews.
The absence of a center aisle further signified the Episcopal Church's
break from Catholic doctrine and prevented "processions," which were
central to Catholic services. Another unusual feature of the building is
found in the front of the church. It is known as a reredos, which comes
from the 14th century French term areredos, (arere-behind + dos-back,
from the Latin word dorsum), or decoration behind an altar. The one in
St. Andrew's Church was commissioned in 1771 and features the Lord's
Prayer, the Creed and the Ten Commandments. This feature is more often
seen in churches throughout Europe and is a rarity in America.
In 1871, the church underwent its first major renovation and in the
1940s it underwent a second renovation to repair years of neglect.
Though the church was used less frequently as time went by, it was
recognized as an historic building and placed on the National Register
of Historic Places in March of 1973. During the 1970s and '80s the
church was given lighting and a heating system. This allowed the
building to be used year-round, something that hadn't been done for a
number of years. It was in the mid-1980s that the church began its
rebirth as a year-round place of worship and its historical significance
to Southern Maryland became fully recognized.
In 1985, a group of dedicated parishioners began building an additional
structure on the property. They worked weekends and evenings to complete
the building, which today serves as a pre-school, church hall, meeting
facility, and even an election polling location. Nurturing a
relationship between the church and the community has always been
important to St. Andrew's Parish. This community involvement is
demonstrated in many ways, including the Sanford Concert Series, which
is held at the church and sponsored in part by the St. Mary's County
Most recently, under the guidance of Reverend Paula Robinson, the church
has undergone extensive renovations to bring it back to its original
glory. The roof was replaced, bricks were repointed, and the foundation
had to be floated at all four corners and stabilized. The gallery
pillars, originally made from large tree trunks, suffered termite damage
over the years, and a structural beam had to be replaced. Although a
costly undertaking, the parish has banded together to celebrate this
historic structure and they continue to add to its significance among
St. Mary's County landmarks.
Today, several projects are underway at St. Andrews, including a
columbarium wall with niches to house cremated remains of parishioners.
It, too, is being built using the same exacting standards first set
forth by Richard Bolton in the 1700s. St. Andrew's Parish continues to
grow and thrive, looking toward a bright future while respecting its