St. Michael’s Church – Charleston, South Carolina
South Carolina | SC Picture Project | Charleston County Photos | St. Michael’s Church
The white spire of St. Michael’s Church is one of the most iconic images of Charleston. Built in the late eighteenth century, this historic church still hosts services every Sunday and throughout the week. It is located at the Four Corners of Law, on the southeast corner of Broad and Meeting streets.
In the 1680s, the Holy City’s first church, St. Philip’s, was erected on the same corner where St. Michael’s now stands. At that time, St. Philip’s was a small, simple wooden structure.
By 1727, St. Philip’s congregation had outgrown its space and a larger church was built a few blocks away (on the aptly-named Church Street). The population of Charleston continued to grow and in less than 25 years, the city was too large for just one Anglican church. In 1751, St. Michael’s was built on the property of the original St. Philip’s, and the first services were conducted there in 1761. Except for the addition of the sacristy in 1883, the structure of the building has remained largely unchanged.
The architect of St. Michael’s is unknown. The design, however, is described in the Book of Common Prayer and is intended to allow all worshipers to hear and participate. The alter is located in a shallow recess close to the congregation, and pews on three sides allow more people to be near the center of worship.
Remarkable features of the church include the steeple, which is 186 feet high, a long center pew where both George Washington and Robert E. Lee sat to worship, and a Tiffany stained glass window in the chancel. The clock and eight bells were imported from England in 1764. Each of the bells has been recast at least once, and the clock was restored in 1993.
As noted above, St. Michael’s stands at the intersection of Meeting Street and Broad Street, known as the Four Corners of Law. The post office on the southwest corner represents federal law. The Charleston County Courthouse represents county law on the northwest corner. Municipal law is represented by City Hall on the northeast corner, and St. Michael’s, on the southeast corner, represents God’s law.
Learn more about this church by visiting its website.