Monday, June 24, 2013

Churches of Charles' Towne - Charleston, South Carolina

Pictured clockwise from the top left: Saint Philips Episcopal, French Huguenot, altar and organ of Saint Michael's Episcopal, and below, Trinity United Methodist.

Known as the Holy City and the Mecca of the South, Charleston is the home to numerous congregations of a multitude of religions that make up some of the oldest in North American history!  Since the founding of the Carolina colonies, the area has been religiously tolerant, allowing refugees to practice freely and harmoniously among each other on the peninsula away from the persecution of European tyrants and ecclesiastics.  Of these churches pictured here are some of the most treasured structures of the coastal cityscape of Charleston and to the sundry of  local worshipers.  Beginning with St. Philips Episcopal church, which is home to the oldest congregation of South Carolina since it was established in 1681!  The high reaching tower of St. Philips has marked not just the skyline by day since it's completion in 1850, but also by night as a rear lighthouse.  Standing as the last tower of a range of lighthouses starting at Fort Sumter to guide sea-goers through the harbor, St. Philips is one of two churches to serve as a lighthouse in United States history.  Next is the French Huguenot Protestant church, one of two remaining active in the United States to this day!  Established a few years after refugees arrived in Charleston in 1680's escaping France after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes which had allowed the Protestants to practice their beliefs within the predominantly catholic France.  The Gothic Revival church today has stood on the same ground that the original 1687 structure had since 1845 and survived the shell-fire and devastation of the American Civil War and numerous hurricanes.  Yes, the Huguenot Church is pink - quite pink!  The following two pictures are from the interior of St. Michael's Episcopal church which happens to be the oldest surviving church building in Charleston!  Completed in 1761, this church has more history than I dare list, but it is noteworthy to mention that President George Washington did attend a few Sunday services looking at the same altar as the one pictured for some historical perspective! 

The structure that the Trinity congregation calls home today was originally built and owned by the Westminster Presbyterians from 1848 until 1926 when the Methodists acquired this sanctuary for their growing congregation.  Surviving the bombardment during the Civil War, the great fire in 1861 and numerous natural disasters, this temple of corinthian columns and beautiful plaster work has been the house of worhip to the local Methodist community for nearly one hundred years!  Also, if you ever do visit this place, note the grand wooden front doors and just how large they are!

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