South Boston, VA: First Baptist Church Learning Area and Garden Conceptual Design

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Virginia Tech. Community Design Assistance Center


Located in the Town of South Boston, Virginia, the First Baptist Church (FBC) owns a large fill lot on Main Street and is hoping to create an outdoor space which can be used by all members of the church. First Baptist Church and the First Baptist Weekday School, which is run by FBC, would like to create an outdoor learning area/garden that “weaves their community, children and adults, with new and existing educational and religious programs” says Mary Tucker Irby, director of the First Baptist Weekday School. This outdoor learning area would also expand upon the outreach services already provided by the church community and allow them to potentially grow food for the hungry, cultivate flowers for hospice patients, and provide a space for “education, play, recreation, friendly gatherings, performances, prayer, church meetings, Godly play, and gardening”. In addition to these elements, an outdoor gathering space or stage would allow outdoor services, children’s plays, weddings, and gatherings. This space would be a wonderful addition to First Baptist Church. The Community Design Assistance Center (CDAC) was contacted to work with the FBC to develop conceptual designs for the vision of the First Baptist Churchyard.

The design process began with an initial site visit to South Boston in June 2015. The CDAC team met with project stakeholders at First Baptist Church and discussed initial design visions and ideas for the churchyard. The team then walked the First Baptist Churchyard with these stakeholders, talking further about the visions and conditions of the site. The team documented existing conditions and took soil samples, which helped the team to understand the opportunities and constraints of the site. This inventory and analysis influenced the design concepts for First Baptist Churchyard. The team worked closely with a stakeholders group to better understand their vision for the site. Research was conducted regarding programs and elements that the stakeholders expressed interest in: natural and creative play, Godly Play, terraces, and gardens. After careful consideration of all the factors, a set of preliminary conceptual design alternatives was developed.

In July 2015, the CDAC team visited First Baptist Church to present the inventory and analysis of the site, research and case studies, and initial design ideas and concepts for the churchyard to the stakeholders and FBC community. During this meeting community members gave their feedback on the initial design concepts and how they wanted them changed and consolidated into a final concept. After this discussion, the design alternatives were then revised and combined into a final conceptual master plan for the First Baptist Churchyard.

The final master plans were presented at a second and final community meeting at the First Baptist Church in September 2015.



Landscape architecture -- Virginia – South Boston -- Designs and plans., Parks -- Virginia – South Boston -- Designs and plans., City planning -- Virginia – South Boston -- Designs and plans., South Boston (Va.) -- Planning.