The start of a new US road trip is always an exciting adventure. We left Manhattan early and stopped at a surprising (to us) Mennonite market in Middletown, Delaware. We had a delicious meal, walked by all the tempting offerings including baked goods, produce and meats, and got back on the road refreshed to continue our way south to Petersburg, Virginia.
Petersburg is about 30 minutes south of Richmond. It has a charming red-brick downtown along with an interesting history. There is evidence of an early-American settlement from 6500 BC on the banks of the Appomattox River. There was a fire that burned most of the city in 1815, followed by an initiative to rebuild only brick structures. The historic downtown today is a district of antique galleries, boutiques, craft shops, restaurants, and renovated residences.
Along with the charming downtown, we were attracted to Petersburg because of the Blandford Church and Cemetery. The cemetery is one of the oldest in the US and the second largest in Virginia (Arlington is larger). There are graves dating back to 1702. The vast amount of graves is astonishing.
Blandford Church is a rare treasure. It is one of the few churches whose decorative stained-glass windows were designed and installed under the direction of Louis Comfort Tiffany.
We took a guided tour of the church and learned its history. In 1901, the Ladies Memorial Association of Petersburg began the project to turn the church into a memorial for confederate soldiers. Somehow, they contracted, at an extraordinary bargain price, Tiffany to design and install fifteen windows. Each confederate state except Kentucky paid for their window. There is a state seal at the top of each panel, a quote at the bottom, and a saint in the middle. Over the door of the church is a panel that the Ladies Association paid for which has the dates of the civil war and the confederate battle flag. I am assuming this is the only Tiffany window with that flag. The windows were prepared between 1900 and 1912. They are vibrant and glow with natural light. Louis Tiffany donated the final window of a jeweled cross and a sentiment of peace and good will towards men.