Visiting the historic churches in Charleston is a who's who of Charleston as well as a lesson in history and perseverance. Some of the churches have survived the many traumas that have stricken the city of Charleston, hurricanes, earthquakes, war and fire and other, have risen like a phoenix from the ashes.
St. Philip's ChurchSt. Philip's is the Mother Church of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. Originally, St. Philip's was located where St. Michael's Church is today. The congregation began there in 1680. Thirty years later the church was moved to what was felt to be a better location. The physical building was destroyed by fire in 1835. The current building was modeled after St Martin in the Field in London.
A graveyard surrounds three sides of the church and additional graves are across the street. This is a who's who of Charleston history. Edward Rutledge who signed the Declaration of Independence is buried here as is Charles Pinckney who signed the U.S. Constitution. John C. Calhoun the great southern statesman and former vice president is buried across the street. To be buried on the church side of the street, you have to have been born in Charleston. His wife is in the churchyard but since he was born in Clemson, he is across the street.
French Huguenot ChurchHuguenots are the French who follow the teaching of John Calvin. After the Edict of Nantes was revoked in 1685, many Calvinists fled from France and some of them ended up in South Carolina. This congregation dates from 1681 and over the years became the only Huguenot church that was not absorbed into the Anglican/Episcopal Church. To this day it remains the only independent Huguenot church in the United States.
The current building was designed by Charleston architect Edward Brickell White in the Gothic Revival Style. It has survived bombing during the Civil War and the earthquake of 1886 and was last renovated in 1997. It is well known for its Tracker Organ which is the last one of its kind that is known to exist in this country.
Cathedral of St John the BaptistThis Roman Catholic Gothic cathedral was originally completed in 1854 and was totally lost to the fire of 1861. It took almost thirty years for the new Cathedral to be consecrated. It is constructed from brownstone that was quarried in Portland Connecticut. The new architect was P.C. Kelly of Brooklyn and with the exception of the soaring spire, it is almost an exact duplicate of the original. Cost constraints kept the steeple from being duplicated. Today, it has a thriving congregation and is the episcopal seat of the Diocese of Charleston.
These are just three of the historic churches in Charleston. Many more including St Michael's and the well-known Circular Congregational Church are open to visitors. If you enjoy historic churches, Charleston offers a wide variety of places to visit and to worship. You can stroll through the historic parts of the city and visit most of them on a self-guided walking tour.