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Non-Denominational Chapel on Churches Island

This church was built in the late 1880s and was torn down in the late 1980s.  According to an article written by Purnell Curles (1906- 1998) of Churches Island, the chapel was moved from the woods in 1924, the doors were locked in 1933 as a church.  In August 1933 a Hurricane blew both doors of the Chapel out into the yard and the doors were put back up, then on September 15, 1933 a Hurricane of 100 mph, twisted the doors so badly that they couldn't be opened. Also according to the article the Methodist were planning a revival at the Chapel in September before the storm hit. The Chapel was still used for Christmas Plays and Boy Scout meetings.  There were 2 pastors...a Pastor Wall, and Pastor Willoughby (first names unknown).

In August and September 1933, strong hurricanes struck eastern North Carolina.  On Aug. 23, 1933 the hurricane was born off the Cape Verde Islands and reached Category 4 strength but weakened to a Category 2 before making landfall. The storm caused record high tides up the entire west side of the Chesapeake Bay, with damages the highest ever recorded from a storm surge, causing 18 deaths and $79 million in damages in Virginia. Virtually the entire Tidewater area including Virginia Beach was paralyzed by the storm through loss of communication, electricity, water service and roads. More than 79,000 telephones were put out of commission and nearly 600 trees, many of them a century old, were uprooted in the city. The highest wind speed was 88 mph at the naval air station in Norfolk. As the storm moved north, damages in the Commonwealth were largely to crops: $2 million in corn, $2 million in tobacco, $750,000 in apples and $500,000 in other crops.

The hurricane of September 16 ranks among the century's most intense.  The hurricane developed east of the Bahamas and strengthened to a Category 3 storm, making landfall near Cape Lookout, N.C. The tide surpasses eight feet at Sewells Point, causing floods in the Tidewater area less than one month after the Aug. 23 storm. But due to preparations made by citizens, the damage was estimated at less than $500,000 compared to the millions of dollars of damage the Aug. 23 storm caused. More than 2,000 telephones lost service. The storm tide flooded City Hall Avenue and Granby Street and tied up traffic in the downtown area all day. The fastest wind speed at the naval air station in Norfolk was 88 mph with 75 mph at the NWS Office in Norfolk and 87 mph at Cape Henry. Two people were killed in Virginia. High winds and waves in Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds left hundreds without food and shelter and contributed to the 21 lives lost in North Carolina.

This article was submitted by Judy Brickhouse.  If anyone has further information about this church please drop an e-mail to Kay Midgett Sheppard.  Thanks!

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