The Gospel Chicken House is currently located in Hanover County near Montpelier , Virginia . Originally the Gospel Chicken House was a chicken coop; it has now been transformed into a place to praise and worship God. Ray and Mary Pollard created the Gospel Chicken House in 1973. At that time Ray Pollard was the base singer for a group called Firetower Quartet. The group needed a place to rehearse; since the Pollards had an empty chicken coop on their farm, they invited the group out for practices.
The rehearsals were scheduled for Saturday nights. During the rehearsals fans began to come to listen and show support. More and more people started showing up as the practices continued. Over time several of those in attendance began asking if they could sing solos, and bands wanted to perform. The Pollards understood this interest as the Lords’ way of spreading his love. They wanted to be obedient and accepted his mission. The Pollards realized the Gospel Chicken House could be a place where individuals could find hope, love, and a reason for living. Renovation of the chicken coop was a major undertaking as the forty-foot wide and one hundred-foot long chicken coop was converted into the Chicken House. Heat and air conditioning was added for comfort. Seating came from the Ashland Theater, and additional pews came from an old church that was being renovated. The seats are anchored to the concrete floor and accommodate 350 people. The refurbished chicken coop includes a stage, sound system, concession stand, and a closed circuit television that allows workers to enjoy the musical mix of seasoned and amateur performers. The walls are filled with photographs and posters of groups who have performed.
The Gospel Chicken House is famous for southern country and Bluegrass-infused gospel music. Bands and singers are booked a year in advance. A typical Saturday evening kicks off with the house band, followed by two other performing groups. One of the bands is located out of state, while the other one is Virginia based. The evening generally lasts for three hours with a mixture of southern, country, bluegrass gospel music and worship. Since there is no admission fee, a love offering is taken up and divided among the performers for their traveling expenses. The Gospel Chicken House is part concert, family reunion, and church social. Senior citizens, young adults, children, and entire families make up the Gospel Chicken House congregation. The Gospel Chicken House is now the longest running weekly gospel program in the nation. Over 1,000 groups or solo artists have performed at the Gospel Chicken House.
Admission to the Gospel Chicken House is free. The concession stand helps fund the non-profit organization. Dozens of volunteers work to keep the Gospel Chicken House operating. Approximately twenty acres are always cut in the summer and plowed in the winter so everyone can enjoy the beauty and the grounds of Pine Lake Farm. People travel from great distances to be apart of the legendary gospel music being held at the Gospel Chicken House. The service is held every Saturday night, except on the Saturday between Christmas and New Years. The concession stand opens at in the afternoon and the music begins in the early evening. The Chicken House has at least twenty-five to thirty newcomers every Saturday night. Regulars place reserved signs on their seats. Some treat the Gospel Chicken House as their second church while for others Gospel Chicken House is their only church. Special programs or sings are held through out the year for anniversaries and benefit concerts; and other groups also use the building. A special, day-long benefit concert is held outdoors in the summer. The admission fee for this event helps defray expenses throughout the year.
Gospel Chicken House
14709 Greenwood Church Road
Montpelier , VA 23192
Profile Prepared By Christina Williams