Friday, March 27, 2015

Sydenstricker Road and Pearl S. Buck

Pearl S. Buck
When I first moved into Springfield, a Burke resident told me that Sydenstricker Road was named after a family who represented the "S" in famous novelist Pearl S. Buck's family. I accepted this as true for a few years, then began to have doubt. When the Internet Age began, I looked up details about the Sydenstrickers that Pearl S. Buck was a part of. No... those seem to be from West Virginia. Must be a different family.

But lo and behold, I was told the truth.

Sydenstricker History 

Thanks to Mr. Marc Points,
Historian of Sydenstricker United Methodist Church
Researched and Compiled by Mr. Dick Pape 

Q: What does a street in Orange Hunt have in common with a Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning author?

A: Its name - Sydenstricker 


Early in the 1900's, Reverend Christopher Sydenstricker and a pastor from Baltimore approached a local general storekeeper, John Quincy Hall, about the use of his picnic grove for an evangelistic camp meeting. The outgrowth of this became Sydenstricker Methodist Episcopal Church, South. 

Rev. Sydenstricker began to hold services in 1910 at Mr. Hall's wooden dance pavilion located on Gambrill Road, (later renamed Sydenstricker Road). 

When it was decided to build a church in the area Caleb Hall donated the land on which the chapel was to be built. While the chapel was being built, Fairfax County granted permission to Rev Sydenstricker to hold services in the Red Schoolhouse next to the building site.

Later when the schoolhouse burned down (in the 1920's), Sydenstricker Church gave permission to the county to hold school in the chapel. 

The chapel was completed in 1911, and was used regularly for Sunday services until 1981, when a new sanctuary was built across Hooes Road. 

The Rev. Christopher Sydenstricker was an uncle of the noted author Pearl S. (Sydenstricker) Buck. She was born in Hillsboro, IN, but grew up in China where her parents were missionaries. She received the Pulitzer Prize in 1932, for her book
The Good Earth. In 1938, she received the Nobel Prize, the first American women to receive that award in literature. She graduated from Randolph-Macon Women's College in 1914. She has written more than 65 books. 

Note: I am indebted to Lisa Becker and Lynn Garvey Hodge, who pointed out that the original story I was told was, in fact, correct.

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