In the late 1700’s, the village of Nottingham emerged as an important port and center of commerce along the Patuxent River. In 1794, William Colbert, a circuit riding preacher, wrote in his journal that a Methodist church in Nottingham was part of his circuit. We know that during the early 1800’s there was a tract of land in Nottingham for a Methodist church. The coming of the railroad, along with at least one devastating fire in 1850, led to the demise of Nottingham. Virtually all records of that Nottingham church were lost or destroyed. We suspect, however, that remnants of that original congregation founded Brookfield, at the intersection of Croom and Candy Hill Roads in Naylor, just a few miles from Nottingham.
Brookfield Church, or Brookfield Chapel as it was first known, has existed since 1886 when the property was donated and deeded to the Methodist Church by William and Mary Duvall as a place of worship and cemetery. The land was a parcel of the original Brookefield estate, home of the Duvall family. The church’s first members were residents of the immediate area, many of whom were affiliated with a former Methodist congregation in the nearby village of Nottingham. According to contemporary sources, Brookfield’s formative years were an active time for the new congregants with worship services being held in cam-style meeting arrangements until a more permanent structure could be put in place. In 1906 work had begun on building this structure. The building, our current structure, was completed in 1909. In 1913, with the addition of a vestibule and bell tower, the building was dedicated. In the 1960s, an addition affectionately known as the “back room” was added which included modern utilities such as heating and plumbing.
Over the years, generations who have called Brookfield home have witnessed those incremental changes, both interior and exterior, and have helped preserve our buildings. At least three roof coverings, new siding, and multiple coats of paint have been added to the exterior; while inside carpet has covered plank flooring and a modern central system has replaced coal burning stoves, leaving the side chimneys as reminders. Likewise, air conditioning recently was installed to augment worship bulletins used as hand-held fans and an electronic sound system was installed to encourage readers and preachers to reach the back pews. Those pews themselves have lent additional history as they were brought to Brookfield in the 1940s from Forest Grove Methodist Church when that church was relocated to make way for Andrews Air Force Base. Also in the 1940s, Brookfield’s fellowship hall was constructed by church members. As with the worship sanctuary, this building has been the subject of structural improvements completed by church members and has continually been in service to the community.
Like the original structures, all these changes and improvements came about through the resolve of Brookfield’s church family. Members of this congregation have dedicated themselves and their resources to the preservation of Brookfield, as the original deed specified, as a place of divine worship. This house of worship will continue to be all it has come to signify in its previous 100 years as it will for the United Methodist Church, this congregation and the community it serves, for present and future generations.