Via Electric Church

Retired Business Closed
Retired Business Closed

I found myself filling time pleasantly in a gentle mist between errands and home patients on Monday. Walking back up to pick the car after repairs at Harvey’s, the old Via Electric building seem stark and imposing, now padlocked, but an active electrical parts and repair shop when we moved here.

lichensIn earlier incarnations, it was obviously a church. You might be able to tell if you click the image for an enlarged version, the door under the porch on the right has in its three panes: RETIRED. BUSINESS. CLOSED.

That only added to the derelict melancholy of the composition. And of the day. In that frame of mind, I wandered around the Jacksonville Burying Grounds (cemetery named for the original town now called Floyd) and took pictures of tombstone lichens–a wonderful metaphor of life after death, and if I had a tombstone for my mayonaisse jar of ashes, I’d insist it be of the kind of rough stone that gives lichens a toe-hold and hope some odd photographer would come along a hundred years from now to admire them in their gray-green and orange crustiness.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. You could always do an unglazed ceramic, then have yourself left in a dark spot in the forest somewhere – unglazed ceramic is nice and porous and would probably be a lovely support for the lichens.

  2. I really dig old churches, buildings, and houses.
    This is a great photo…… there still a bell in the belfry?
    I like old cemeteries also (yes, call me weird)……that’s a nice tidbit of information you gave, about Jackson/Floyd…..I did not know that…..if I read about it somewhere, then I forgot it…….lost in the old cemetery of my mind………let’s all hope that your tombstone is way way far far off ……..


  3. Many of my family ancestors are buried right there. One of my father’s first jobs was to mow that cemetery, and it is a nice place to do some walking exercise. But it’s not as cool and scenic as it once was when there were very large trees near the roadfront of the cemetery. Unfortunately, someone thought it was a good idea to cut the trees down leaving everything more exposed to the sun.

    Have you heard that Edgar Allen Poe’s girlfriend that inspired his Annabelle Lee poem is buried there. I think she’s near the roadfront area as Annie Smith.