The Walter W. Craigie Speaker Series

Named in Walter’s honor and to keep his legacy and vision alive, this series brings speakers to St. John’s to talk about a wide variety of topics related to history.

Walter W. Craigie

Walter W. Craigie

St. John’s Church Foundation’s longest serving trustee, Walter W. Craigie, a former past president of the board and first trustee emeritus, died on March 3, 2016 in Richmond, Virginia.

The Foundation is extremely grateful to Walter for his years of exceptional leadership and service. Walter served for over 20 years as a trustee of the Foundation (1990 - 2010) and served for 10 of these years as the president of the Board of Trustees. As our first trustee emeritus, he continued to serve the Foundation with his significant leadership skills and depth of knowledge.

We initiated the Walter W. Craigie Speaker Series in October 2016 with Dr. Charles F. Bryan, Jr., whose talk entitled Ill Suited to the Job: America's Worst Presidents, packed the Parish Hall.   

2020 Speaker Series

Andrew O’Shaughnessy

Vice President of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation (Monticello), Saunders Director of the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies

Thursday May 14, 2020

6:00 PM

presenting a talk entitled

The Men Who Lost America:

British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire


The loss of America was a stunning and unexpected defeat for the powerful British Empire. Common wisdom has held that incompetent military commanders and political leaders must have been to blame, but were they? Weaving together the personal stories of ten prominent men who directed the British dimension of the war, O’Shaughnessy dispels the incompetence myth and uncovers the real reasons that rebellious colonials were able to achieve their surprising victory.

Andrew O’Shaughnessy is the author of An Empire Divided: The American Revolution and the British Caribbean(Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000). His most recent book The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution and the Fate of the Empire (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013) received eight national awards including the New York Historical Society American History Book Prize, the George Washington Book Prize, and the Society of Military History Book Prize.

2019 Speaker Series

Khizr Khan

Gold Star Father, Lawyer, and Author

Tuesday September 24, 2019

presenting a talk entitled

Our Constitution: A Legacy of Liberty for All


From Patrick Henry’s “Liberty or Death” speech, to the Declaration of Independence, to the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, the common thread is liberty. Our Constitution is the embodiment of liberty: a living, breathing promise of our deepest democratic values. The Constitution protects the rights and freedoms of all Americans, serves as a blueprint for other countries, and is a legacy of liberty for all.

Khizr Khan, Constitutional Rights and National Unity Advocate and a Gold Star parent, immigrated to the United States in 1980 and attended Harvard Law School for LL.M degree. He is licensed to practice law before the Supreme Court of the United States and in Washington, DC and New York State courts. He specializes in Commercial Civil Litigation, Health Privacy Law, Veterans, Women and Children Rights.

A. E. Dick Howard

Warner-Booker Distinguished Professor of International Law, University of Virginia, School of Law

Wednesday May 8, 2019

presenting a talk entitled

Liberty’s Quest: American Ideas Here and Abroad


When Patrick Henry spoke of “liberty or death” at the Second Virginia Convention in 1775, America stood at the threshold of the age of constitutionalism. In succeeding centuries, American ideas were at the heart of an international conversation about democracy, constitutionalism, and rights.

Today, the international scene gives us pause. These developments invite us, in the words of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, to mull the need for a “frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.”

Speakers 2016-2018

Division Head for Physical Anthropology

Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History

Dr. Douglas Owsley

Thursday October 25, 2018

presenting a lecture entitled

Forensic and Archaeological Investigation of Civil War Military Remains

The above burial was uncovered in 2016 during the preservation project to underpin the foundation of St. John's Church. The remains were removed and sent to Dr. Owsley and his team at the Smithsonian for study.

The above burial was uncovered in 2016 during the preservation project to underpin the foundation of St. John's Church. The remains were removed and sent to Dr. Owsley and his team at the Smithsonian for study.

A century and a half after the end of the Civil War, the bones of Confederate and Union soldiers are still being found. This presentation will demonstrate how a forensic investigative process contributes to American military history. We will also get a chance to learn about the bones found at St. John’s Church in 2016.

President and Chief Conservator for F. Carey Howlett & Associates
Former Director of Conservation at Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

F. Carey Howlett

Wednesday May 16, 2018



The wooden sounding board above the pulpit at Historic St. John’s Church is one of the most important colonial artifacts in Virginia. Dating to 1741 when St. John’s was built, it is one of four surviving colonial sounding boards remaining in Virginia. The sounding board features an inlaid sunburst bearing a human face, a unique feature among colonial Virginia churches. Unfortunately, previous refinishing and layers of aged varnish altered the original appearance of the sun.

The Sounding Board Restoration project, led by Conservator Carey Howlett, was a two-year journey to discover the original appearance of the sounding board and the best way to restore it. The project brought together high-tech science, cutting-edge restoration techniques and old-fashioned detective work.

Dr. Jon Kukla

Wednesday October 4, 2017

Patrick Henry: Champion of Liberty


Please join us for Dr. Jon Kukla’s talk about his new book Patrick Henry: Champion of Liberty. Kukla’s three previous books embody his personal goal of writing first-rate historic scholarship for the general readership. Jon was the former director of Red Hill–The Patrick Henry National Memorial.  His latest book brings both newly discovered documents and new insights to the story of the patriot who played a central role in the movement to independence, the Revolution, the Constitutional era, and the early Republic.

Dr. Kukla signing books at his book reading with SJCF staffer Jamie Isaacs

Dr. Kukla signing books at his book reading with SJCF staffer Jamie Isaacs

Dr. John A. Ragosta

MAY 10, 2017

Patrick Henry: Forgotten Father


John A. Ragosta is a Fellow at Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and a Visiting Assistant Professor at Randolph College. He is the author of Religious Freedom: Jefferson's Legacy, America's Creed (2013) and Wellspring of Liberty: How Virginia's Religious Dissenters Helped Win the American Revolution and Secured Religious Liberty (2010). 

Dr. Charles F. Bryan, Jr.

October 5, 2016

"ill suited for the job: america's worst presidents"

Dr. Bryan retired in 2008 after a thirty year career as a public historian. He first served as assistant editor of the Papers of Andrew Jackson, a University of Tennessee documentary editing project. Then following stints as executive director of the East Tennessee Historical Society and St. Louis Mercantile Library Association, Dr. Bryan was appointed president and chief executive officer of the Virginia Historical Society in 1988.

Dr. Bryan is a frequent contributor to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.