Israel Christian House

Israel Christian House

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Our Vision

The village that is Fincastle today will continue to be a distinctive and culturally significant community that balances an abiding respect for its history with the needs of 21st century Botetourt County. In the midst of new residential development, Historic Fincastle, Inc., will participate in the development and success of programs to preserve and conserve the spirit of Fincastle, its historic streets and buildings, and its natural setting in a vibrant local economy. Fincastle will remain the center of an eclectic, working community that embraces new people and new ideas–a pleasing, educational place that makes visitors glad they came and anxious to return to an old town with a progressive spirit.


HFI Sizzles With Ice Cream Social

Beating the heat around here has been the name of the game recently.  Historic Fincastle, Inc. (HFI) certainly helped on that score with their first annual Ice Cream Social held Sunday, July 14 at Fincastle’s Big Spring Park.

HFI members teamed up to provide free hot dogs and ice cream to anyone who attended, and the event attracted close to two hundred participants who enjoyed good food, games, music, and camaraderie with their friends and neighbors

In addition to food, HFI secretary and board member Meredith Bowman-Shelton, who was also the chief event organizer, led kids in classic games of sack races, three-legged races and egg carries. Those kids who participated apparently had a great time, as their laughter echoed throughout the park. In addition to games, children also were able to have their faces painted by HFI staff members.

Despite the heat, great music was provided by Cheryl Lundsford of The Guitar Dojo in Fincastle ( who performed hits by Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and others.  Cheryl also brought along her “musical petting zoo,” allowing children to touch and discover musical instruments, some for the first time.

Historical reenactors from the Fincastle Company were on hand to provide a colonial historical perspective for the event.  Their display of eighteenth-century camp life and historical artifacts attracted many viewers.

Several Ice Cream Social guests brought along their dogs for what is sure to be a future classic: the Fincastle Dog parade.

“We were happy to provide this free event to the local community,” noted HFI president Patsy Dickerson.  “It is our way to show our appreciation for the support Fincastle has provided to HFI over the years, and we hope to make this an annual event.”

Other upcoming HFI events include the “Fincastle Days Festival,” with artists, crafters, music and much more on September 28, the Ghost Tour of Fincastle on October 25 & 26, Fincastle’s Tinsel Trail starting on December 6 and HFI’s Historical Holiday Home Tour and Marketplace on December 14.  One other event, another in HFI’s “Celebrating Our Historic Churches” which will be held on September 29 at 4 PM St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.

Historic Fincastle, Inc presented their scholarship winners at the James River High School Awards Assembly on Tuesday, May 14, 2024.

The Elizabeth and Israel Christian $1000 Scholarship was awarded to Paul Theimer of Shavers Farm Road, Fincastle, VA.  He is the son of Michael and Jennifer Theimer.  He is an honor student and the senior class president.  Paul has participated in Soccer, FCA, and National Honor Society. In the Fall he plans to attend Virginia Tech and study Finance.  One of Paul’s references described as “civic minded… with a great sense of responsibility towards improving the lives of those around him … and can mobilize others and foster collaboration.”  Another reference describes him as “hardworking, driven and motivated… kind and caring…and determined.” Congratulations Paul and good luck in the future.

The Pat Simmons and Sally Eads $500 Scholarship was awarded to Drew Whitson of Black Forest Lane, Buchanan, VA.  She is the daughter of Sean and Ashley Whitson. Drew plans on attending Virginia Western Community College and study nursing.  She has shown many types of volunteering on her application:  Swim Club, Bee Club, Feeding America 2021, Fincastle Library Book Sale, New Freedom Farm Cheer Team, Solomons Mission, YMCA older Adults Luncheon, and James River High School Day of Service 2023 and 2024, just to name a few.  One of Drew’s references described her as “zealous, resilient, sacrificial leader, dedicated, … quick to cheer others on, putting their needs above her own.”  Her other reference described her as “a breath of fresh air, …, she completes her tasks, and is wiling to do anything asked of her.”  Congratulations Drew and good luck in the future.

Lord Botetourt High School Winners of 2024 HFI Scholarships

On May 17, 2024, at the LBHS Senior Awards Assembly, the following students received scholarships from Historic Fincastle, Inc. Gavin T. Rosenberger of Daleville was awarded the $1000 Elizabeth and Israel Christian Scholarship.  This scholarship is based on an essay written by Gavin about Fincastle. Why was it originally located where it is today, who settled here and, where did the name Fincastle originate. “Scotch-Iris and German immigrants from Pennsylvania originally settled…around a sawmill that was erected by John Miller…Israel Christian, a businessman, American Pioneer and Landowner establish the Town of Fincastle by donating forty five acres of land…The pride of Fincastle’s current residents shows through with events like the Tinsel Trail Tree Lighting … and other events all year.” Gavin’s references described him as a having a positive outlook that sets him apart from his peers, and that he is a humble young man with a servant’s heart.  Gavin plans to attend Virginia Tech next year.  He is the son of Kent and Kimberly Rosenberger.

The $500 Pat Simmons and Sally Eads Volunteer Scholarship was awarded to Emily Hanson from Blue Ridge. She is the daughter of Paul and Renee Hanson and plans to attend either Liberty University or Virginia Tech in the fall. In addition to volunteer at the Fincastle Baptist Church media department, Read Mount Swim Tim, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, LBHS Key Club, cheerleading and yearbook, she says that she was “taught to be humble rather than selfish or prideful”. “The most lasting impact of volunteering I experienced was teaching young children the strokes and techniques of swimming. . . Making a positive impact on children through volunteering is something I will purse throughout life…” Her references stated that “Emily is an intelligent, ambitious, and sincere young adult. . .I can personally attest of her high ethical standards, hard work and compassion for people who she considers her friends as well as people she does not know.”

HFI would like to congratulate Gavin Rosenberger and Emily Hanson on their fine accomplishments while at Lord Botetourt and wish them much success in their future endeavors.

A Thank you to the First Baptist Church

Thank you so much for hosting the first Historic Fincastle, Inc program Celebrating Fincastle’s Historic Churches – 2024.  Your rich history from 1831 when the church began with three members and no church building was shared with all. After 1866, the “Fincastle African Church” was able to purchase a plot of land and erect the first building.  The basement of the church was first used as a public school for the Negroes for a thirty-year period. On April 13, 2024, it was the sight of a delicious and friendly fellowship time after a rousing program of spiritual music presented by The Glorylanders of New River Valley. They are an A Capella group that has been singing together for over 30 years. The approximately 60 of us in attendance were treated to about 40 minutes of heartfelt music.  Toes were tapping and hands were clapping all over the sanctuary.  It was truly a blessing.  A special thank you to Deacon Chester and Minister Dolly Adams for helping to organize and lead the program.

Thank you.

Patsy Dickerson, President of Historic Fincastle, Inc.

Additional Events To Honor Fincastle’s Churches

Historic Fincastle is blessed to have beautiful historic churches that we are celebrating throughout 2024.  The next program will be at The Fincastle Presbyterian Church on Thursday evening May 30 at 6:30 pm.  The program will begin with gathering music provided by Lori Turner, music director followed by a brief history of Fincastle Presbyterian Church.  Hannah Cox, an elder scholar presenter from the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra will present a program on the history of music.  The program will cover the history of music from “field songs” to “gospel” to “the blues” to “Motown” to “Grunge”.  A fellowship time will follow the presentation.

The third program will be held on Sunday, Jun 30 at 3 pm at the Fincastle United Methodist Church.  The format will be the same:  a welcome, a history and a musical performance by the talented musicians from FUMC. 

The fourth program will be held on Saturday, September 28 at 2 pm during the Historic Fincastle Festival at St. Mark’s Church.  After a welcome and history of the church, the choir of the Botetourt Academy of Music will perform.

Historic Fincastle, Inc. hopes that everyone will come support our talented musicians and historic churches through this program.  There is no charge, but a love offering will be collected during each program for the performers.

Fall Festival Vendor Application

Historic Fincastle, Inc. is now accepting vendor applications for HFI’s Fall Festival to be held on September 28, 2024. We look forward to a great day and seeing you there! Please visit our Fall Festival page (link above) to view a copy of the application.

Historic Fincastle, Inc. Celebrates Fincastle’s Churches

Historic Fincastle, Inc. (HFI) is pleased to announce a series of events throughout this summer that will celebrate Fincastle’s historic churches.  Each event will present a lecture on the history of the church, a live music celebration and church fellowship.

The series’ first event will be at the First Baptist Church of Fincastle on the Blue Ridge Turnpike.  The event, to be held on Saturday, April 13 at 3 PM, will feature a historical discussion about the rich history of the church and feature music by the a cappella gospel music by the Glorylanders. A fellowship will follow the presentation and music.

HFI’s May event will be held at the Fincastle Presbyterian Church and will feature a discussion by a church historian as well as music by Hannah Cox from the RSO. A fellowship will follow the program.   The exact date is still under development, but the event will be held in late May. 

The Fincastle United Methodist Church will present HFI’s June offering featuring historian Angela Coon and music by the Church’s musical group.  Again, a fellowship will follow the presentation.  The June date is to be determined.

The September event in the series will be held on September 28, in conjunction with HFI’s Fincastle Fall Festival.  St. Mark’s Episcopal Church will present a historical discussion, music by the Botetourt Music Academy and a fellowship.  The time is to be determined.

Please visit HFI’s website at or on Facebook at for additional information and updates.

HFI 2024 Program Planning Underway!

(Some are in the early planning phases, so stay tuned for updates on or our Facebook page (Historic Fincastle, Inc.)
Annual Scholarship for graduating Seniors at James River or Lord Botetourt High Schools – see the guidance teachers at the school; deadline for application – April 5
Step-Back-Into History – May 8, 9 am to 12 noon; From the Early Cabin to the Big Spring Park. Learn about some early history of Fincastle.
Old Fashioned Ice Cream and Hot Dog Social – mid-July at the Big Spring Park
Annual Historic Fincastle Fall Festival – Saturday, September 28, craft, art, and food vendors and activities and live music all over town.
Annual Historic Fincastle, Inc meeting – mid-November at the Fincastle Presbyterian Church, state of “HFI” update plus election of officers
Annual FHI Membership Holiday Party – date December 7, location TBA
Holiday Marketplace and Holiday Home Tour – date December 14
Celebrating Our Historic Churches – throughout the year (the four dates are still being finalized), location at First Baptist Church, Fincastle United Methodist Church, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Fincastle Presbyterian Church; come hear the history of the host church and then be entertained by a musical performance (varies at the different churches)
Living History Talk at the Early Cabin with a historical character interpreter and Story Time – June, July, August (“still under construction”)
“Around the Town – the last 50 years of the 20th century” – this will hopefully be a picture book to complement the original Around the Town book published by HFI; community input and help will be welcomed. There will be publicized meetings (Organization Meeting Tuesday, March 26 at Fincastle Library at 11:30) where all are welcome.
Walking Tour and Signage about the town – This is an ongoing project that will be taking place throughout 2024. The emphasis for 2024 will start with Roanoke Street.


HFI Elects Officers, Directors

At their recent annual meeting, Historic Fincastle, Inc. (HFI) elected their 2024 officers and directors.  Some faces are new, while others are HFI veterans.

For the Executive Committee, Patsy Dickerson was elected HFI President.  Patsy is a long-time Fincastle resident and has been an HFI member for several years.  David Lloyd, new to Fincastle and HFI has been elected Vice President, while Fincastle resident Yvonne Saunders will act as Treasurer.  New secretary Meredith Bowman-Shelton from Daleville will fulfill the HFI Secretary role.

Twelve new directors were also elected, with some returning faces and several new folks stepping into the director role. 

Executive Committee members and directors will serve either a one or two year term, depending on if they have served in the past year.

The executive committee has also developed a list of committee chair roles in the areas of event planning, communications, facilities maintenance and others.  Some of these roles have been filled, but HFI is always looking for volunteers to make our mission a success.

Please click here for a complete list of Executive Committee officers and directors.


About The Dorothy Simmons Kessler Collection

Over the course of her lifetime Dottie Kessler researched and collected a large volume of information about Fincastle history and culture.  When her family carried out her request that her historic archives be given to Historic Fincastle, Inc. it was with the understanding that HFI preserve, archive, display and distribute her notes, writings and photographs of the town and county in a manner that honors her love for her town and county.  The members of the Archives Committee were determined to be good stewards of this treasure trove of Fincastle information.

The HFI Archives Committee has worked tirelessly scanning, transcribing and uploading numerous documents and images from Fincastle’s past.  The searchable collection is now fully accessible online through PastPerfect, a web-based cataloging system used by history museums.  Below is an image of the main page.  You may access the collection/database by visiting  Clicking on this link  or the image below will open a new browser window.