(NCSU - Historic Archtecture Survey)
From the National Register nomination:
St. Mary's is an Episcopal chapel located approximately six miles Hillsborough in rural Orange County. The congregation was established by the Church of England sometime in the late 1750s by the Reverend George Micklejohn. St. Mary's was one of three Anglican churches in pre-Revolutionary Orange County.
Following the Revolution, the Church of England was prostrate in North Carolina, and St Mary's was inactive. The Anglican Church was slowly reorganized ,as the Protestant Episcopal Church. The Diocese of North Carolina was established in 1817 with three clergymen and fewer than 200 communicants. St. Mary's was admitted to the convention in 1819. It had a small congregation and was forced to share a rector with the larger St Matthew's Church of Hillsborough. A main road leading east out of Hillsborough takes its name from the chapel. An examination of its reports to the annual conventions of the Diocese reveals that in the two decades preceding the Civil War, St Mary's usually had between five and seven communicants.
The original church building was replaced by the present chapel in 1859 on a 9 9/16 acre tract purchased from Ellen Bain, adjacent to the original tract. The church was consecrated November 25, 1859 by Bishop Thomas Atkinson. The congregation reported that the "neat, brick church" had cost $2,000. The disruption caused by the Civil War was so severe that in 1868 St Mary's was declared to be no longer entitled to representation in the annual convention of the Diocese due to failure to maintain its organization.
This status remained unchanged until 1888 when St Mary's was reorganized as a mission. The Reverend Joseph Murphy reported to the convention that St. Mary's was composed of ten families and held services once a month. He also reported that a new roof had been put on the chapel. The size of the congregation grew gradually peak of 33 communicants in 1904. However, the church was never prosperous. Reverend Murphy was forced to make his weekly trip from Hillsborough, a trip which he stated "in wet weather can hardly be made in less than two hours." He also reported that several of the families in the church lived as far as twelve miles from the chapel. St Mary's existed to serve these rural families who could not be expected to make the trip into Hillsborough. As transportation facilities improved in the twentieth century, St Mary's gradually lost its importance. Regular services were stopped in the early 1930s. A once a year "homecoming" service is conducted at St. Mary's on the third Sunday in August.
NCSU - Historic Architecture Survey
10.09.2016 (G. Kueber)