FREDERICK, Md (WDVM) — One of the oldest buildings in Frederick County will soon be open to the public.

The Zion Episcopal Church dates back to 1802. As it stands now, it’s surrounded by the homes and shopping centers that form Urbana, but more than 200 years ago it stood alone as a first of its kind.

“This was one of, if not the first, building to be constructed that served a community purpose, not just a religious purpose,” explained president of the Frederick County Landmarks Foundation, Carrie Albee.

It’s within these four walls that newly-settled residents not only worshipped but met as a community to socialize and host meetings.

By 1882, the community had grown and added onto the stone-masonry building a belfry and vestibule.

About 80 years later, in 1961, the staple church suffered a fire.

“The ruins laid unattended to, still owned by the Episcopal church, but unfortunately, not a usable structure,” said Albee.  

It wasn’t until 2006 that Knight Kiplinger and the Zion Church Preservation Committee stepped in and began restoration approach.

A single wall had completely fallen over and a new one was constructed and laid with the original stoning.

A new roof was put atop, and the added wood shingles are like those of 1802. The installed hardware on the doors, and matching skeleton key reflect the era.

“The general experience of this space is very similar to what you would have experienced in 1802,” said Albee.

And just outside, the church cemetery includes some of the founding families of the Urbana area including the Ijam family members for whom Ijamsville is named after.

The cemetery also holds the remains of soldiers who fought in historic wars, like Frederick Smith who fought for the Confederacy in the American Civil War, and even further down the cemetery rows, another headstone memorializes John Montgomery. Montgomery was a soldier in the revolutionary war.

Albee says that as the Urbana community continues to grow, landmarks like this one are vital to keep funded and in preservation.

“With all of this new construction, it makes historic buildings such as this one all the more important because it’s a physical anchor and a physical link to the history of the community,” Albee explained.  

The Frederick County Landmarks Foundation will host an open house for the Zion Episcopal Church on Sunday.