Eternal Father of the Sea – North Charleston, South Carolina
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The Charleston Navy Yard overlooking the Cooper River in North Charleston began operations in 1903 and continued through the twentieth century, officially closing in 1996. The chapel that served navy personnel as well as local civilians, Eternal Father of the Sea, was built in 1942 during World War II. During this time the navy yard’s work force increased dramatically from around 2,000 prior to the war to 25,948 in 1943. As a result, the chapel was expanded in 1944.
The non-denominational chapel held services for Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish sailors and their families. Because such a large number of American soldiers were being deployed during the war, many weddings were officiated at the chapel, along with “Thanksgiving Services” when ships returned. The last chaplain-led service here was held in 1995, a year before the base closed. In 1998 a new congregation – God’s True Deliverance Church – made use of the sanctuary, remaining here until 2004. The building was then used as a performance venue for the North Charleston Arts Festival until extensive termite damage halted its use in 2005.
During the last military service, held on September 3, 1995, a time capsule was opened that had been placed in the chapel’s corner stone. Inside the box were a Holy Bible, Prayer Book for Soldiers and Sailors, Army-Navy Service Book, Service Prayer Book, Army-Navy Hymnal, 41 pennies, and four dimes. The books had water damage, thought to be the result of Hurricane Hugo in 1989.
In 2006 the City of North Charleston began plans to restore the building and the following year spent $143,890 in repairs, but the building is far from finished. The preservation of the building remains a work in progress. Today the property is managed by the Clemson University Restoration Institute, which is anchored at the former naval base. Students from Clemson University and the College of Charleston are using the building as a project in historic preservation as well as environmental and economically sustainable restoration and revitalization.
Eternal Father of the Sea Info
Address: North Hobson Avenue, North Charleston, SC 29405
Eternal Father of the Sea Map
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