Oak Grove brightens views of quiet Smithville Road

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
Oak Grove M.E. Church South is on Smithville Road in South Dorchester. It was founded around 1874. It is maintained by the Oak Grove Church Foundation.

GOLDEN HILL — The scenery along Smithville Road is much like one might expect of a two-lane road that winds through the swamps of South Dorchester. But around one turn a visitor spots a pretty little church, well maintained, that seems to ask a driver to stop and take a look.

A survey last for the Maryland Historical Trust, last updated in 2016, says, “The Oak Grove Methodist Church is a diminutive frame chapel that stands in a grove of trees not far from the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge north of the former crossroads village of Golden Hill. Clearly influenced by Grace Protestant Episcopal Church on Taylor’s Island, the Oak Grove Church is a less elaborately executed Gothic Revival design with the same steeply pitched gable roof, lancet windows and hexagonal gable end windows.

Rather than operating as traditional sash windows, the narrow, lancet windows open by turning on a center pivot.

“The full history of this congregation has been obscured by the loss of records, but it evidently started out as the Golden Hill M. E. Church South. E. C. Hallman, in his history of Methodism on the Eastern Shore, places the construction of the building in 1892. According to the Lake, Griffing, and Stevenson Atlas published in 1877, a Methodist Episcopal congregation worshipped on this site in an earlier structure. At some point during the mid twentieth century the name was changed to Oak Grove M. E. Church. No longer used for regular services, the site is maintained by the Oak Grove Church Foundation, Inc.”