A John Kline Homestead Preservation Trust has been created in hopes of preserving the home of Elder John Kline, a leader of the Brethren during the Civil War. The trust’s steering committee is holding a meeting Nov. 11 at 2 p.m. at nearby Linville Creek Church of the Brethren in Broadway, Va., to determine whether there is widespread interest among the Brethren to preserve the homestead.
The historic home has recently become available for purchase. The home was owned and occupied by a Mennonite family for seven generations, and now the family proposes to sell the property, according to a letter from the temporary steering committee.
Local Brethren leaders have formed the trust to consider plans for preserving the remaining 10 acres of the original John Kline farm, according to Linville Creek pastor Paul Roth. They have extended their right of first refusal to a Mennonite financial institution (Park View Federal Credit Union) of Harrisonburg, Va., as an initial effort to keep the property from being sold to developers.
At the Nov. 11 gathering, the agreement with the credit union to purchase some four acres of the homestead–including the 1822 house, spring house/summer kitchen, smoke house, and carriage house–on behalf of the Brethren will be shared. The credit union plans to construct a branch office on an acre of the southwest corner of the land in future years. The remaining five-plus acres will be negotiated for purchase at a later time, Roth said.
A video of the house and property will be shown at the meeting, along with a PowerPoint presentation. Those who attend will be invited to make contributions to purchase the property from the credit union and to establish an endowment to develop the site as a John Kline interpretive center. The local Brethren also will seek counsel for developing a founding board of directors and envisioning further preservation of and programming on the site, Roth said. Following the meeting there will be opportunity to visit the John Kline homestead.
“This is a blessed opportunity to preserve the Elder John Kline house from likely destruction for development. The time is urgent!” read the letter of invitation.
The home was built in 1822 as the first home of Elder John and Anna Wampler Kline. It also served as one of the three original meetinghouses of Linville Creek church. “From here Elder Kline embarked on missionary journeys to western Virginia, facilitated the 1837 Annual Meeting at nearby Linville Creek Church (erected on land he donated), traveled to Brethren congregations as Annual Meeting Moderator during the Civil War, and only a few miles from where he was assassinated in 1864. This is indeed a very rich landmark of our shared heritage,” the letter said.
Brethren living in the Shenandoah Valley who are working as the temporary steering committee along with Roth are Robert E. Alley, pastor of Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren; John W. Flora, an attorney; W. Wallace Hatcher, a retired businessman; Rebecca Hunter, a businesswoman; Stephen L. Longenecker, department chair for history and political science at Bridgewater College; Phillip C. Stone Sr., president of Bridgewater College; and Dale V. Ulrich, secretary of the Brethren Encyclopedia Board and a retired college administrator.
For more information contact Roth at 540-896-5001 or firstname.lastname@example.org.