South Carolina

Presbyterian Church on Edisto – Edisto Island, South Carolina

South Carolina  |  SC Picture Project  |  Charleston County Photos  |  Presbyterian Church on Edisto

Edit This Page  |  Leave A Comment

Established circa 1685, the Presbyterian Church on Edisto Island is one of the oldest Presbyterian churches in the country. Edisto Island was acquired by Lord Ashley Cooper, one of the Lord’s Proprietors, in 1674. By the 1680s Colonial Governor Joseph Morton had settled here. A letter dated 1689 references “Presbyterians meeting on Edisto,” leaving historians to estimate that the congregation organized about five years prior.

Presbyterian Edisto Island

John Diskes of Summerville, 2013 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The main church building in use today was constructed in 1831, and except for some minor changes to the portico and ceiling, has changed very little in nearly 200 years. It was restored in 1836 and underwent more renovations in 1995, though the character of the building has not changed since its original construction. The manse, which also has been restored, has accommodated pastors continuously since the eighteenth century.

Presbyterian Church On Edisto

John Diskes of Summerville, 2012 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Union troops occupied the island in 1861 during the Civil War, and whites were forced to evacuate. However, their slaves remained on the island, and having once worshiped here in the slave gallery – today a balcony – they elected their own session, named a pastor, and used the church as their own until 1867.

Presbyterian Edisto Interior

Bill Segars of Hartsville, 2006 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

That year Dr. William States Lee, who had been pastor prior to the war, received a writ from the federal government to have the church returned to white members. The black members then founded nearby Edisto Island Presbyterian Church. Today both churches are members of the Charleston-Atlantic Presbytery.

Edisto Island Presbyterian Church

John Diskes of Summerville, 2014 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The church grounds contain a Prayer Chapel, pictured above, which is open to people throughout the week for prayer and meditation. Prayer requests left in the Prayer Chapel are acknowledged during each Sunday’s People’s Prayer segment of worship.

Rusty Williams of North Charleston, 2009 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The churchyard contains the graves of islanders dating back to 1787, while the nearby manse dates to around 1790. Many island natives and genealogists conduct research based on the tombs in this graveyard.

Edisto Presbyterian Church is listed in the National Register:

Edisto Island Presbyterian Church, a two-story, rectangular structure, was built 1831 by a Mr. Pillans. In 1836, E.M. Curtis, an architect of Charleston, replaced the portico and added a coved ceiling over the interior. Except for these alterations, the building remains original. Massive Greek Doric columns of the portico support a triangular pediment which has a central circular window. The frieze at the pediment’s base features alternating metopes and triglyphs. The church also features large Palladian entrances with semi-circular fanlights.

A cupola is used in place of a steeple on the low gabled roofline. The side walls each have two entrances identical to the front. Between there are three 12 over 12 windows with fanlights and arched shutters. Six small one-sash windows on the second floor level are placed directly above the six openings on the first floor. This church serves one of the oldest Presbyterian congregations in South Carolina, having been formed about 1685.

Reflections on Edisto Presbyterian Church

Contributor Rusty Williams writes, “Containing names such as Mikell, Whaley, McConkey, Pope, Bailey, Baynard and Murray, the graveyard is a testimonial to the early families of Edisto Island who are so important to the island’s heritage. Five former pastors are at rest here including the Reverend William States Lee, the longest serving pastor in the history of the church.” Williams also notes that the tombstones and mausoleums are true works of art.

Contributor Pam Oerman shares, “My passion is taking pictures that harbor thousands of stories. I have passed this church so many times – watching the moss that hangs from the huge trees swaying back and forth, protecting the final resting places of hundreds before us. What a peaceful sight, the Prayer Chapel. A place of refuge, peace and solace.”

Add your own reflections here.

Presbyterian Church on Edisto Info

Address: 2164 South Carolina Highway 174, Edisto Island, SC 29438
GPS Coordinates: 32.579524,-80.308263

Presbyterian Church on Edisto Map

Presbyterian Church on Edisto – Add Info and More Photos

The purpose of the South Carolina Picture Project is to celebrate the beauty of the Palmetto State and create a permanent digital repository for our cultural landmarks and natural landscapes. We invite you to add additional pictures (paintings, photos, etc) of Presbyterian Church on Edisto, and we also invite you to add info, history, stories, and travel tips. Together, we hope to build one of the best and most loved SC resources in the world!


The South Carolina Picture Project is a volunteer project which earns no profit. We work hard to ensure its accuracy, but if you see a mistake, please know that it is not intentional and that we are more than happy to update our information if it is incorrect. That said, our goal is to create something positive for our state, so please make your comments constructive if you would like them to be published. Thank you!

4 Comments about Presbyterian Church on Edisto

SCIWAYNo Gravatar says:
October 26th, 2015 at 8:33 am

Hi, Nancy. We have included the church’s website on the page above the map. I suggest calling someone from the church to help with your inquiry. Best of luck!

Nancy howarthNo Gravatar says:
October 24th, 2015 at 6:56 pm

My son in law’s great aunt, Mary May, lived on Edisto Island in the 1970s and 1980s. She had been a missionary to Africa. I recently received a copy of a “Brief History” 1685 to 1985 of the church. The drawing on the front on the pamphlet is of the church by Mary May. Would you know if the church has this drawing by her? I live in Charleston and plan to visit to see if we can find any info about her. Could you let me know if anyone at the church would be available to talk with us?

janeNo Gravatar says:
October 29th, 2014 at 12:11 am

Loved the church, can not wait to go again and take more pictures.

Sara Slack (MIKELL)No Gravatar says:
May 20th, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Is there a list of graves at this site?


Join Us on Facebook
Our 5 Goals
Our Contributors
Add Info
Add Pictures
Search for Pictures
Missing Landmarks


Abbeville ACE Basin Aiken Allendale Anderson Awendaw Bamberg Banks Barns & Farms Barnwell Batesburg-Leesville Beaches Beaufort Beech Island Belton Bennettsville Bishopville Blackville Bluffton Bridges Bygone Landmarks Camden Carnegie Libraries Cemeteries Charleston Charleston Navy Base Cheraw Chester Churches Clemson Clinton Clio Colleges Columbia Conway Cordesville Courthouses Darlington Denmark Dillon Donalds Easley Edgefield Edisto Elloree Fairfax Florence Folly Beach Forests and Nature Preserves Gaffney Garden City Beach Georgetown Glenn Springs Graniteville Greeleyville Greenville Greenwood Greer Hamburg Hampton Hartsville Hemingway Hilton Head Historical Photos Historic Houses Honea Path Hopkins Hunting Island Isle of Palms Jails James Island Johns Island Johnsonville Johnston Kiawah Island Kingstree Lake City Lake Marion Lakes Lancaster Landrum Latta Laurens Lexington Libraries Lighthouses Little River Manning Marion McClellanville McCormick Military Mills Moncks Corner Mountains Mount Carmel Mount Pleasant Mullins Murrells Inlet Myrtle Beach National Register Newberry Ninety Six North Augusta North Charleston North Myrtle Beach Orangeburg Pacolet Parks Pawleys Island Pendleton Pickens Piers Pinopolis Plantations Port Royal Post Offices Ravenel Restaurants Ridge Spring Ridgeway Rivers Roadside Oddities Robert Mills Rock Hill Rockville Rosenwald Schools Salters Saluda Savannah River Site SC Artists SC Heroes of the Alamo Schools Seneca Shrimp Boats Society Hill Spartanburg Sports Springs St. George St. Helena Island St. Matthews Stores Sullivan's Island Summerton Summerville Sumter Sunset Synagogues Town Clocks Trains & Depots Trees Trenton Turbeville Ulmer Union Wadmalaw Island Walhalla Walterboro Waterfalls Water Towers West Columbia Westminster Winnsboro Yemassee York

© 2018, LLC All rights reserved.