I never cease to be surprised at what I run into on the lonely country roads in Carroll County. I was on Rte 31 from Westminster to New Windsor, when I came across this little road that had a sign saying there was a historic Methodist church. It’s mostly farmland and dairy country out here, with a few orchards thrown in for character, so naturally I was curious.

I took this little road deep into the countryside, and came upon a perfectly preserved house and meeting room, with a collection of barns and sheds, and get this – life size statue of a minister called Robert Strawbridge.

Apparently, that was the site of the first Methodist church in the United States, dating back to the 1760’s. The sign says it all. It was late in the evening and I shot a few pictures with my OM-1 and a plain-jane Zuiko 50mm f/1.8 with Kodak 200 film. The setting sun made the scene pre-dominantly gold and yellow.

I decided to return there early in the morning sometime for better lighting with the sun at a different angle – never got around to it. Then it was winter, and the roads get pretty icy out in the Country. Anyway, to make a long story short, I managed to get back over there this Spring – this time with an OM-2N, a Zuiko 50mm f/1.4 and an Zuiko 200mm f/4 (Don’t ask – I just felt like having the 200mm that day).

If you’ve never used a 200mm lens, it’s a treat… the perspective at 200mm is very interesting – the background gets pulled in, making it look bigger than it is, leaving the foreground pretty much the same. It doesn’t distort, but definitely flattens. The Zuiko 200mm f/4 is one of Olympus Opticals best lenses, tack sharp and feels solid in the hands. One of the legendary ‘perfect lenses’, and a must have.

Unfortunately, you’ll have to BUY one to experience it, since no Olympus owner will ever LEND you their 200mm f/4. Other lenses perhaps.. but not the 200mm. No owner wants it out of their hands and sight. Trust me on this. The Zuiko 200mm f/4 also has magnificent bokeh, which is a plus point when using it wide open (perfect for birding).

The sign says it all, there’s not much else out there explaining what it was like out there in the 1750’s and 1760’s when the minister took up residence there. I looked up Robert Strawbridge, and here’s what I found . Not much in Wikipedia either. However, I found a bit of interesting Robert Strawbridge history here. The house and meeting place are a museum, and there is a person who lives in the house next door that provides a little more information and interprets the site on request.

In any case, I’m glad I visited. The Strawbridge site has a very peaceful atmosphere, I can understand why the Reverend decided to build his church there.

Update Jan 2008: Here are some pictures from a recent visit – they’ve added a statue of Elizabeth Strawbridge at the shrine.

Robert Strawbridge House
Robert Strawbridge House
Robert Strawbridge House

Photographed with an OM-1, Zuiko 50mm f/1.8, Kodak 200 Gold film

Robert Strawbridge House
Robert Strawbridge House
Robert Strawbridge House
Robert Strawbridge House
Robert Strawbridge House

Photographed with an OM-2N, Zuiko 50mm f/1.4 and Zuiko 200mm f/4 and Fujicolor HQ Super 200 film. i used a graduated ND filter for the last picture in the series.


text and images © 2007 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners.
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