St. Philip’s Church – Charleston, South Carolina
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Established in 1680, St. Philip’s Church is home to the oldest congregation in South Carolina. The current church, located at 146 Church St in Charleston‘s French Quarter, was completed in 1838 and is the third to serve its congregation.
The first church was a modest, wooden building constructed in 1681 on the present-day site of St. Michael’s. With the congregation growing, a larger brick church was authorized on the current site in 1710. It wasn’t completed until 1723 due to Indian wars and damage from hurricanes. This church would house the congregation for over a century, until it was destroyed by a fire in 1835. Work on the present church began later that same year.
After the fire, the congregation moved into its temporary home in the Tabernacle at Cumberland Street Methodist Episcopal Church. It remained there until 1838, when its new church was finished. The steeple, designed by noted architect Edward Brickell White, wasn’t completed until over a decade later, in 1850.
St. Philip’s, a National Historic Landmark, is also listed in the National Register, which says the following:
The present church building is the third structure to house the oldest congregation in South Carolina (established 1681). The building, without the steeple, was designed by Joseph Hyde and constructed by 1836. The spire was designed by Edward Brickell White and constructed between 1848 and 1850. The church is stuccoed brick with a single tier of windows on either side. There are three Tuscan porticos. The interior has a high vestibule, is in the style of an auditorium with high Corinthian arcades, a plaster barrel vault, galleries and an apsidal chancel. There are notable wrought-iron gates to the front of the building. The chancel and apse were altered, after a fire in 1920, by Albert Simons, architect. The spire is set upon a square stuccoed brick base with oculi; the steeple is octagonal with pilasters and oculi; the octagonal spire is capped with a weather vane. The imposing tower, perhaps massive for the portico beneath, is appropriately in the Wren-Gibbs tradition.
St. Philip’s Church Info
Address: 142 Church Street, Charleston, SC 29401
St. Philip’s Church Map
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