Highland County Has New Venue At Old Church


Generations of Stephensons have attended Pisgah Presbyterian Church, organized in 1831 and located at 3898 Meadowdale Road, just off Rt. 84 in western Highland County. When the church closed a few years back, the building could have fallen in to disrepair or been sold. Instead, descendants of the original Stephenson family that donated land for the church have retained its character for a new generation. Now, the location is known as The Church at the Old Oak. Debbi Stephenson has more on what this venue has to offer.

Ms. Stephenson says, “My husband, Jim, and I have come in to ownership of the former Pisgah Presbyterian Church when it had to close a few years ago, and we’ve remodeled it, and it’s already now to be used for weddings or reunions or, we’re going to have vendors set up at Maple Festival, and we’re just out there ready to host your event!

“The first thing we had to do was put in a septic so that we could put in a bathroom, ‘cause it never had a bathroom. It never had water. It still looks the same from the outside because we wanted to retain the original charm, but puttin’ in the bathroom, we had to move a wall and that means there’s a nice center door instead of two side doors on the inside. We took out all the pews, took out the nasty 70s-indoor/outdoor carpet and have beautifully refinished floors. We replaced the heating system so we now have heating and air conditioning and put in some fans, replaced the windows. It really is beautiful on the inside.

“It’s ‘claim to fame’ is the big oak tree that’s out front, so, we wanted to use old oak in the name, so it’s called The Church at the Old Oak. It is not a church. If you want to get married with a JP there, you can, and everybody wants a destination wedding now. It’s just a very nice cozy setting for, really, anything that you would like to do there.”

The Church at the Old Oak opened for its first event, which was a wedding, in April of 2018. Coming up, it will be a new attraction during the Highland County Maple Festival, hosting up to six vendors and food as a stop between the Mill Gap and the Blue Grass/Hightown Sugar Camps. Ms. Stephenson continues, “We have myself, the Stitch Witch, selling hand-sewn tote bags and things like that. My sister, Beadwitched and her friend will be selling their jewelry there. They’re always very popular at The Maple Festival and ‘Hands & Harvest.’ Erica Stephenson, who just opened a florist shop called Meadowdale Blooms, she’s going to be there with her stained glass. Susanna Baxter is gonna be there with all of her baked goodies, and Mrs. [Michele] Kimble from Pendleton County is going to be selling Scentsy, and then I also have Heather Simmons from Marlinton who sells photographs that look like letters, and you can put ‘em together, and we still need some food vendors. A food truck would be a nice addition, and I do have one more spot inside that somebody could either set up for crafts, or they could set up and sell soup or quiche or sandwiches or somethin’.”

The Church at the Old Oak plans to be open during both weekends of the Maple Festival, from around 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays and 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Sundays. Anyone interested in learning more, or booking the venue for a future event, can visit their website at www.thechurchattheoldoak.com.

Story By

Chris Swecker

is the Assistant Station Coordinator and a News Reporter for WVLS. He has roots in Highland County going back several generations, and he grew up in Monterey. Since graduating from James Madison University with a bachelor’s degree in Media Arts and Design, he has pursued his career at a news station and advertising agency in Virginia, on Microsoft’s campus in the state of Washington, and in both states as sole owner and employee of a video production company. He enjoys exploring life with his wife, Jessa Fowler, traveling, hiking, hunting, gardening, and trying new foods, all while discovering more about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. He feels blessed to be a small part of this talented AMR team to help give back to the community that has provided him with so much.

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