By Eugene F. Bare Jr.
If you’ve ever driven on Runions Creek Rd. you may have passed an old building with a sign that reads “Tunis Creek Church and School”. Grey and weathered it has served generations of hardy mountain folk over it’s almost 200 years in existence. But what the new owners have instore for it next is truly EXCITING!
When Aaron and Lauren Foster purchased an old farm on “THA CRICK” as locals call it, they knew that there was lots of work to be done to restore the place to its former glory. Aaron a retired Army Veteran and his wife Lauren are no stranger to challenging missions. However, this is one that are were looking forward too.
The property consisting of 11 acres, a house, barn, and several outbuildings was just what they were searching for. After closing on the place in 2019 they took vacation days and long weekends from their jobs in Chesapeake where they lived to work on the house. Even with the 3+ hour drive they managed to make the essential renovations to the house that would allow their family to move in full time in 2020.
Surprises were discovered one by one as they worked ranging from antique farm implements to a long-forgotten checkbook from the early 1900s containing a record of purchases and transactions.
The Fosters have truly enjoyed the process of restoring and reinventing the farm, uncovering beauty buried by weeds, layers of paint and tarnished by time. Believing strongly in reusing and recycling Lauren used her talents as an artist to transform several items discarded by previous generations into useful every day items including light fixtures, bathroom fixtures and wall decorations.
This brings us to the next act in the life of this historic structure currently known as Tunis Creek Church and School. Inspired by people’s comments and interest in the building the Fosters would like to restore the building and make it safe to hold occasional public tours or host small private events.
To preserve the structure and make it safe enough they need to reinforce the floor joists, repair the foundation, and weatherproof the building better by working on the soffit, siding, doors, and windows. Also important is to add a ramp to make it accessible to people with limited mobility.
Given the considerable expense to complete this work they are establishing a dedicated fund that will be funded by selling personal items at a sale on September 4th, 2021. The sale is open to the public and will feature antiques, modern and vintage items, crafts, and concessions. Anyone interested in helping the Fosters preserve this local landmark may do so by contributing donations of money, materials, or labor assistance.
In addition to resources that would help fund this effort information that people may have about the structure is also welcomed. Just a few questions that she would like to have answered about the Church and school is was painted, stained or just left unfinished wood, do people have any stories, photos or items that will help in creating this historical land mark? Are there still desks, kerosene lanterns hymnals and schoolbooks around that may have been used in this church/ school or of the same period?
The sale will be held at the Tunis Creek Church and School, and everyone is encouraged to attend. If you have items you would like to donate for the benefit sale, stories to share about the Church & School or would like to help in some way with this effort you may contact Lauren Foster by phone at: 757-681-3334 or via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org