Pulpit Chairs Given New Life
In 2020, Wilson, Frank, and Anne Somerville had the pulpit chairs at OPC refurbished as a gift to the church. The results are beautiful. Many thanks to this family for their contribution.
These chairs have a long history with OPC.
February 13th, 1910, the Session minutes of the Orange Presbyterian Church read as follows:
“Object of this meeting was the consideration of an offer of $1200.00 for the church building by Bishop Gibson of the Episcopal Church; with the following reservations, viz. the pulpit, the pulpit (or Rostrum) chairs, the hymn board, the hymn book racks. A motion was made, seconded and unanimously adopted that gave the Trustees power to accept the definite offer of $1200 for the property and authorizing them to do so.”
We can assume these pulpit chairs were in the first church we built in 1845 on Byrd Street. They were brought to our new church on the corner of Caroline and Main Streets in 1910. The chairs now reside in our present Sanctuary, built in 1971.
We are so very grateful for this gift.
- Jennie Hill Robinson
The Somerville Family
Atwell serves his country
Atwell Wilson Somerville was born November 19, 1921, in Hillsville, Virginia. He was the son of Rev. Walter Gray and Hattie Nottingham Somerville, both of Culpeper County. Atwell grew up in South Carolina. He was a 1942 ROTC graduate of Clemson University.
In June he joined the 90th Bomb Group of the Army Air Corps, as a second lieutenant. This heavy bomber unit, the "Jolly Rogers," served in the southwest Pacific, from 1942 to 1945. Atwell, known as “Slim” in the service, rose to the rank of major.
Law school and marriage
After returning home from the war, Atwell entered U.Va Law School. In 1947, Atwell Somerville married Anne Carter Walker of Rosni Farm, Madison County. She was the eldest daughter of Margaret and Frank Walker. The couple settled in Orange.
Atwell completed his law degree in 1948. He joined his uncle, Severn Nottingham, in his Orange law firm.
Service to the community
Atwell was a devoted advocate of his family, community, and church. He loved sports. Atwell strongly supported his children's activities, including coaching summer youth baseball. He also helped to start the Orange Country Town Pool.
Atwell was president of the Piedmont Bar Association. He also was an organizing and honorary life member of the Orange County Rescue Squad. Atwell served on the Town of Orange Planning Commission as the attorney for Orange County, 1982-1995.
He received Scouting's Silver Beaver award. Atwell was president of the Orange County Chamber of Commerce. He was also a member of the Orange Economic Development Corporation. Atwell was an organizing member of the Orange County Historical Society.
He was also the first chair of the Germanna Community College board. He served as president of the college's educational foundation. Atwell was also was the first chair of the Montpelier Property Council.
Service to the church
Atwell was a dedicated member of the Orange Presbyterian Church. He served as deacon and elder, and Presbytery Moderator. He was a delegate to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A).
Atwell sang bass in the church choir and led youth and adult Sunday school classes. He also loved historical research.
Gardening and history
Anne Carter Somerville graduated from St. Margaret’s School in Tappahannock, Va.. She later received a degree from Sweetbriar College.
She was an active member of The Dolley Madison Garden Club, The Garden of Virginia, and The Garden Club of America. Anne Carter also was a member of the Colonial Dames of America. And she was a member of the Orange County Historical Society. Anne Carter was also active in the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Monticello Association.
Anne Carter serves the church
Anne Carter was an advisor for the Orange Presbyterian Youth Group in the 60s and 70s. Anne Carter accompanied them to Massanetta Springs on Labor Day weekends.
She was an Elder and an active member of the Women of the Church, serving as President at one time. Anne Carter served many years on the Flower Committee. She also helped Mrs. Jane Ober with landscaping on the church grounds.
In June of 1975, Anne Carter Somerville joined Orange Presbyterian Church. She did so by transferring her membership from St. Thomas Episcopal Church. It surprised many in the congregation. Because of her active participation over the years, they thought she had always been a member of OPC.
A legacy of service
Anne Carter Somerville passed away December 11, 1997. In 1999, Atwell married his high school sweetheart, Margaret Oates Goodman. Atwell Wilson Somerville, 92, died Sunday, February 23, 2014, at his home in Orange.
Atwell and Anne Carter Somerville are survived by a daughter, Anne Carter Somerville, and two sons, Atwell Wilson Somerville, Jr. and wife, Bebe and Frank Walker Somerville and wife, Laura Adair. There are also three grandchildren.
The Somervilles inspire us with their dedication and devotion to this church which their daughter Anne continues today.
- Jennie Hill Robinson
OPC History Team