Our History


Mills River Chapel

The exact date of the organization of Mills River Chapel is not known, but the congregation was organized sometime between 1800 and 1826. The circuit-riding Methodist preacher and Bishop, Francis Asbury, visited the area and preached there as early as 1800-1801.

On August 15, 1826, John Clayton, in consideration of ten shillings, deeded a site to John Murray, Phillip Brittain, John Johnson, Frazier Banning, and John Clayton, Trustees, after which Mills River Methodist Church was organized and occupied a frame building. The frame building was used until shortly before the Civil War, when it was torn down and construction of the present Chapel was begun about 1860.

It is one of the three surviving examples of mid-19th century brick Greek Revival-influenced churches in the 14 westernmost counties of North Carolina. The Chapel is one of a few antebellum churches in Henderson County and the only one used consistently for worship since its construction.


Building of the Chapel

A former slave named Josh King, whose grave can be found in the church cemetery, made the bricks for the sanctuary. Some were made on what was the Jaynes place near Kings Bridge on Highway 191 and some on the Johnson Farm on Jeffress Road.

A Mills River carpenter, Americus Barnett, built the church with the help of Phillip Sitton, his sons and members of a church family named Johnson. Mr. Barnett broke his leg during the construction and was not able to continue working so the building was not completed until after the close of the Civil War.

During the time of construction, services were held in the Presbyterian Church, which was then known as Mills River Academy. Worship services alternated between the two churches for almost a hundred years with each church having its own Sunday School sessions.


The Historic Chapel Today

Mills River Chapel was on a circuit until 1950 when it was made a station. Rev. C. Edward Roy was the minister at this time.

In 1986 the pastor, Rev. Robert E. Roach, along with preservation specialists, and the church historian, Sybil Cathey, began to seek nomination to be placed on the National Register.

On December 2, 1988, Mills River Chapel was honored by being entered into the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior. It represents the nation’s official list of cultural resources deemed worthy of preservation. A special bronze plaque can be found on the front of the Chapel.

The congregation moved into the new sanctuary in December 2001. The Chapel is still used for for smaller events and special services.


The Historic Chapel is unlocked at various times throughout the week. For more information about the Historic Chapel and the cemetery, contact the church office.