Silverbrook History

Silverbrook's history relied on Miss Elsie Harrover (Miss Elsie) for a long time. "Three Evans brothers and a friend John Moody moved to this area from Maine around the turn of the 20th century and started a barrel stave business near a spring under the roots of a large tree." This property would later be owned by the Hudnalls and is at the end of Monacan Road. "The spring started a stream which these men called Silverbrook, and this is how our community got its name."
In 1895, John Wehn moved from Baltimore with his wife, Sara Elizabeth, and daughter Elsie (Miss Elsie). They rented a farm near Lee Chapel Methodist Church, which was closed at the time, and when the Sunday School was reopened there, Miss Elsie began to play the piano and organ. Later, the Wehn's bought a farm in Silverbrook, "Papa didn't like there being no church around." The nearest Sunday School was at Cranford Methodist Church, and the nearest school was "over on the Ox Road above Occoquan. Papa wrote to the superintendent of schools to see if we could get a one-room school started." The school system agreed upon it, under the condition that there be at least 28 students. "Mr. Rosenhammer gave the land for the school." The county then built a one-room school on a piece of the existing church property just NW of the existing building, which years later burned down. On November 6th, 1904 Silver Brook School opened and soon began to function as a Sunday school as well. The first school teacher was a Miss Gravett, who boarded with the Wehn's and was "a Baptist lady, but a good worker." With the cooperation of Miss Gravett and the superintendent of schools, Mr Wehn went to work on getting a Sunday School started. "Twenty-two members joined on that first Sunday, November 6, 1904. Grown-ups started coming, and in a short time, we had 72 members."
Elsie Wehn married Robert Harrover at home in 1906. "I was married at home. My husband was a carpenter, and he and Mr. Gus Grimsley built the church." According to the original minutes, (See Prologue above, #2) the first Building Committee meeting was held October 20, 1906, so we can only assume some other gatherings were held to talk about a new church before this. In fact, it listed that money was raised as early as April 18, 1905. To collaborate Miss Elsie's information about the church carpenters, at a meeting dated November 3, 1906, a "motion was made and carried that Mr. Harrover and Mr. Grimsley be employed to build church at 25 cents per hour." Throughout the minutes, there are numerous accounts of money gained through fundraisers as the building continued. They built the church as funds were raised, much like the later additions were built. The original Silverbrook United Methodist Church was built at a cost totaling $570.00
At the time of Silverbrook's construction, the nearest Methodist church was approximately five miles away and considered too far for the residents of Lorton to walk to. For the Lorton community in 1906, the act of joining with the Methodist system allowed the residents to feel part of a larger religious whole. However, the decision to build a Gothic Revival-style building connected this small rural farming community to national architectural trends and made the community church part of our national heritage.
In 1906, the church congregation commenced construction and continued until the building was dedicated in 1908. The builders were Robert L. Harrover, whose title was main carpenter, and A. W. Grimsley, who was also given credit for the design. The church paid $20.00 to Mr. & Mrs. Rosenheimer for the land on April 25, 1905, but the deed was not recorded until May 1,1907.
Reverend Christopher Sydenstricker was appointed Silverbrook’s first minister in 1908. Reverend Sydenstricker’s great-grandfather, Philip, immigrated to America after the Revolution and settled in Greenbriar county, Va. (now W.Va). Rev. Sydenstricker’s father, Andrew, married Frances Coffman in 1834. To this union were born nine children: David S., John M., Mary C., Isaac C., Rebecca, Christopher, Hiram M., Absalom and F. Pierce. According to Rev. Sydenstricker, “Andrew Sydenstricker was a man of strong convictions and was unusually well informed, but lived a quiet life near Ronceverte. He died in 1892 and his wife in 1899.”ii He and several of his brothers entered into ministry. David S. Sydenstricker entered the ministry of the Presbyterian Church in his young manhood and spent the whole of his ministry, with the exception of one year in Arkansas, at Hillsboro, Pocahontas County, West Virginia. Hiram M. entered the ministry of the Presbyterian Church and served in Missouri, Texas, Tennessee and Mississippi. He died at West Point, Miss., in 1913. Absalom had been a missionary to China from the Presbyterian Church for more than fifty years. F. Pierce was a minister of the Presbyterian Church and spent his entire ministry in West Virginia.ibid (Rev. Sydenstricker was the uncle of noted author Pearl S. Buck).
At the time of Silverbrook's construction, the Lorton area was a rural, farming portion of Fairfax County, without any church or community meeting place within a reasonable distance for the travel mode of the day. The congregation grew, not only as it was the only church in a broad area, but also due to the construction of the Lorton Correctional Complex that was started in 1908. As the area changed to a more suburban setting, Silverbrook grew too. In 1958 the first Silverbrook baseball team "Lorfax” was created and sponsored by the Church. In 1974, Silverbrook purchased a Sunday school bus.
Silverbrook Church continues to serve as a focus for the community, as its surroundings have changed to a suburban bedroom community, with uninterrupted religious affiliation. The Church also serves the community as a meeting place for other social activities. Throughout its life, Silverbrook has hosted community organizations, such as the Boy Scouts, Alcoholics Anonymous, Little League Baseball and community association meetings for certain subdivisions, such as Lorfax Heights; also, it served Fairfax County as a precinct for voting. Throughout the life of the church it has served as a bonding agent for the community by creating an opportunity for people to meet and work together.
Silverbrook's graveyard, a contributing resource, continues to serve the funerary needs of the community. The earliest stone is dated 1911, and the most recent is dated 2008, with a total of 40 well-maintained graves.
Silverbrook United Methodist Church is on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register and stands as the only remaining early-
twentieth-century Gothic Revival-style church in Fairfax County that retains its historic integrity ( and (
i H.G. Schroeder, A History of Silverbrook Methodist Church, 1964