The Art Gallery of New Geneva is located in Historic downtown Appomattox,
a few miles from the Appomattox Courthouse National Park
(location of Robert E Lee's surrender, which took place at the end of the Civil War.)
Sadly, however, Appomattox is considered one of the “burned counties” because its courthouse, along with most of the records contained in the clerk’s office, were destroyed by fire in 1892. Because of this, reconstruction of historical information is pieced together by other primary-sourced documents, so the exact date of the building’s construction can not be confirmed.
After the Civil War, between the years 1870 and 1945, Appomattox experienced a rebuilding period. Various small industries sprang up throughout the county, including local trading stores and other small businesses. It is believed that this building was constructed sometime during those years.
The building was first used as a trading store, a small grocery store, as well as a post office - all together. It was eventually bought by a law firm and rented by various smaller businesses, including a thrift store, a t-shirt printing company and a consignment shop. It was ultimately purchased by The ITR (The Institute for Theonomic Reformation, www.HisGlory.us) in 2018 for educational purposes for its online correspondence college, The New Geneva Christian Leadership Academy (www.NewGeneva.us). The Art Gallery is an extension of the educational services provided by New Geneva.
Within two years after the building was purchased by the ITR for its art department's educational purposes, the covid pandemic hit the area and much of the building’s renovations came to a halt. Covid disrupted many businesses and services impacting the funding for the project which primarily came through private donors.
The Art Gallery's renovation eventually resumed, creating a lovely, warm and quaint atmosphere with a décor reminiscent of the colonial period. The flooring, ceiling and most parts of the building are original. The basic structure still stands, with its peaked roof, ‘winged’ sections and front overhang. The large front display and side windows have been replaced with beautiful curved ones, creating an overall welcoming atmosphere.
For many years, Jane Raymond wrestled with the disconnect between Christians and the world of the arts. The common belief was that the work by Christian artists was only appreciated by a small group (usually by those who are in the faith) and typically depicted Biblical stories or Christian history. Christians often found their work hidden inside church buildings or at Christian events.
Throughout many years of working, teaching and researching in the field, it was quite clear that the arts which the general population was exposed to had mainly been dominated by the secular realm. The challenge for Christian artists to better extend their audience and bring forth the message of God to resonate with all people, was long present in Jane’s mind. The question wasn’t “how to be dominant or big”, but rather, “how to use the arts to the glory of God.” It became clear that a fine arts venue was the answer. Read about the Biblical definition and philosophy of art, and God’s purpose for it in her book entitled, Art: A Biblical Definition and Purpose.
Through researching the Scriptures, Jane discovered that all the arts are recognized by God as essential and profitable to the advancing of His Kingdom. This is why The Gallery also offers an area for local crafters and artisans, with the hope of presenting various artistic creative gifts, as well as performances, book readings, lectures, and so on.
Jane and Rev. Dr. Paul Michael Raymond were married in 1985. Rev. Paul founded the Reformed Bible Church in
New York in 1992, and later moved to Virginia where the church resides. In addition to the separate art building, the church houses a theological book store and large library (with a special home-educator's area), a small cafe area, and various classrooms that connect correspondence students to the online college (The New Geneva Christian Leadership Academy, www.newgeneva.us) all under the parent educational entity of the ITR. (www.HisGlory.us) .
May God be praised and honored through this work!
Let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us:
and establish thou the work of our hands upon us;
yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.
Photos of original building and renovations for Art Gallery