ReChurches often have preachers who are described as “explosive.” Some churches even have “explosive” squabbles among members.
But for Olivet Presbyterian Church in 1928, the word “explosive” took on a frighteningly literal meaning as a cache of dynamite was discovered in a recently abandoned furnace in the church’s basement.
It all began in early March, when Edward Woodward, who had just built an apartment building at Beverley and Market streets, needed to dry a batch of plaster and woodwork for use in the new structure. He knew that Olivet Presbyterian, which was located on Richmond Road one mile east of Staunton, had just installed a new steam-heating system and no longer needed its old furnace.
Woodward contacted Olivet’s minister, the Rev. H.E. Truitt, and obtained permission to disconnect the furnace and move it to Staunton. On March 9, Truitt and four workmen went to the church to do just that. The door to the furnace room had been locked since the previous fall, so Truitt had to gain entry into the basement by crawling through a window
Once everyone was in the basement, the work of removing the old furnace began. When one of the workmen remarked on the weight of the furnace, the men opened the door, looked inside and received a shock.