Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Smallest Church in 48 States

Our Lady of the Pines, Silver Lake, West Virginia

This tiny Catholic church is said to be the smallest in 48 states.

There's also a smallest mailing office nearby.

The back of this postcard tells the story in the church's own words.

I like to think of myself as the child of a childless couple, Mr. and Mrs. P.L. Milkint, who brought me into being as surely as if they were my flesh and blood parents. I was born of love, for it was because of their great love for their departed parents, and their wish to build a lasting memorial to honor and remember them.

I was built In 1957-58. I was christened, "Our Lady of the Pines."

I am believed to be the smallest church in 48 states. I measure 24' x 12' outside and 16' x 11' inside. I have six pews and can seat 12 worshippers, 24 if the aisle is filled and standing room taken. All my fixtures are hand made: cross above the altar, the tabernacle, candle holders, the old rugged cross at foot of altar and the 14 stations of the cross to match the tiny church. The Infant of Prague in red velvet garment with gold trimmed lace was donated by a dear friend of the family. The altar linen cover was woven by grandmother in Lithuania over 90 years ago.

I think my parents selected a beautiful spot to give me birth. My lawns and surroundings are well kept by their hard labor. I have flowers blooming around me from early spring until late fall. In fact it seems to me that my life of usefulness is like the flowers and trees around me. I awaken to life and service when the spring flowers bloom and the hills turn green again. It is then that mission Priests come and Mass is celebrated. People come and kneel to worship and go on their way with blessing and peace of mind because of me. I have known the pleasure of having been a part of uniting happy youths into Holy Matrimony.

I love to see the tourist season come, for then I have many visitors and admirers. I fear that if I were my parents' child of flesh, I would be a spoiled one, for the endless praise bestowed on the beautiful stone work, stained glass windows and the historic little bell in the bell tower. Sundays as many as five and six hundred visitors stop in to visit me, walk around the beautiful surroundings, see the flowers, the nursery and other ornaments of interest, where folks can really enjoy the use of camera.

As you step over the welcome door mat in the vestibule at left is a register, and you are invited to sign your name and address and make any comment you wish. At this point there is also a display of cards of the church and some religious articles. It is self-serve: you just drop a coin in the box for what ever you purchase. Profit from this goes to help maintain the grounds.

More than thirty·seven thousand people, from 48 states and 17 foreign countries visited me in 1972. Each year the visitors have increased by great numbers. Some of the bus lines have me listed as one of the attractions and stop here when they are on their scenic tours. These tours bring visitors to our lovely mountains from early spring when the sarvis, wild cherry and the dogwood deck the mountains in white, to the time when brighter and more vivid colors come with the azaleas, the laurel and the rhododendron, until the autumn foliage turns red and golden. When the last flowers freeze and fade and all the leaves come down, and the snow sifts through the pines to cover my roof, my door is closed for no visitors come.

But I am never lonely, because the winds in the pines above my cross are of many moods. They sing, sigh, moan and whisper to me. Winter birds seek shelter in my bell tower on nights when the cold winds blow. The fingers of the friendly pines caress my cross, and then during the Christmas season the trees are beaded with lights of many colors that glow and sparkle under the winter stars. Then I know that it will soon be spring and many friends will come again.

Visit my next door neighbor, the smallest mailing office, and don't forget to drop your friends a card and tell them to come and visit us again....

Built by Mr. & Mrs. P.L. Milkint

Our Lady of the Pines is located on U.S. 219, near Thomas. W.Va. (Post Office address: Horse Shoe Run, West Virginia 26716
It would require a harder heart than mine not to be moved by the childless Milkint's dedication to this tiny church.

This is not the only smallest church; it turns out there are many of them. See Roadside America for a list.


  1. I was out that way last year. Indeed there are a lot of these things. I was at one in Georgia claiming to be the smallest in America, they seem about the same size to me.

  2. I just found this place last week while I was on a road trip cross the mid US. What a wonderful litle gem this wa to find. So quiet and special. I am glad we stumbled upon it and I hope others find this gem. The tiny postal building behind it was neat too!!

  3. I just was here again this week. Beautiful. Worth the miles to visit there.

  4. It's the most beautiful little church i've ever seen,definately worth the trip,the wishing well,an little post office on the beautiful grounds just make everything look so beautiful,because it is.The inside of the church is beautiful so small but amazing.Would love to go back an see it,i just really love it.

  5. It's simply the most beautiful places in my travels i've ever been to,Theres a wishing well an a single post office on the grounds.The inside of the little church is the most beautiful place i've ever seen,it's definately worth the trip.It's the most beautiful place around.

  6. My Fiance and I fell in love with this little church when we visited there in May. Does anyone now how to contact someone about having a wedding there?

  7. I can remember my Dad taking us to see this when I was about 10.
    so that would be about 1971 -72. I thought it was so dear.

  8. My grandmother lived just down 219 from there. I visited many times and one of the many memories I have of Silver Lake. Walked the area of the lake, the dam, the post office and the mountain below the lake. And also remember picking the wild berries on the hillside to the south of the church. There was an overlook on the hill where the berries were. It is a special and serene space. A place of peace.

  9. In 2003, I was given a picture of an Angel in white comforting Jesus in crimson. On the back of this picture reads, "Our Lady of The Pines, Smallest Church in 48 States". Can anyone tell me anything about it? Please e-mail me at

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