McGaha Chapel, completed in 1872 and situated on a wooded hillside along the
old Johnstone Turnpike, is a reminder of a by-gone time when people walked,
rode horseback or came in wagons to their house of worship and listened outside
its open windows, if all the pews were filled.
|Simple decorations add to the festive atmosphere inside the
147-year-old McGaha Chapel during the annual holiday sing.
Chapel is a symbol of reconciliation, serving as a means to reunite a community
and families divided during the Civil War.
The men of the area built a small, sturdy one-room structure of poplar
from the surrounding forest. Hand-pressed
glass filled the eight windows and allowed for plenty of light. The hand-made pews of single boards
illustrate the size of some of the nearby trees. The simple pulpit and mourner’s bench, and
probably the pews, were crafted by A. J. Loftis who deeded the property to the
church had an active congregation until about 1930 when improved roads and
transportation enabled worshippers to travel farther for service.
the little chapel in the woods is owned and maintained by the Transylvania
County Historical Society. It is open
twice a year, in June and December, for community sings. The rustic chapel, decorated with fresh
greenery, is the perfect setting to step back in time and share in the singing
of traditional carols followed by homemade treats on Sunday, December 1 at 2:30
|Fresh carnation add holiday color to the fresh-cut tree.|
sure to check out the December 2019 issue of Our State magazine for a wonderful article, “Tiny but Mighty” by
Susan Stafford Kelly about the historic McGaha Chapel and this annual event.
The Historical Society along with the Sherwood Forest and
the Greater Cedar Mountain communities sponsor this annual event. Parking is available at the Sherwood Forest
Robin Hood Center with a shuttle to the Chapel—arrive early to allow time to catch
a ride or to walk to the Chapel. The
Robin Hood Center is located on US 276 South (Greenville Hwy) with roadside
signs identifying parking.
and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina
Room, Transylvania County Library. Visit the NC Room during regular library
hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about our history and see additional
photographs. For more information, comments, or suggestions contact Marcy at