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Historic Churches in Charleston, South Carolina

Circular Congregation Church
Organized in 1681, it became The Indepedent Church of Charles Towne. Meeting Street adopted its name from the Meeting House built to house the independent congregation. In 1806, a unique circular building, designed by Robert Mills, became known as the Circular Church. In 1861, a fire destroyed the building. In 1891, the fourth and present building on the site integrated the brick from the burned building of the 1886 earthquake into the new building. The Circular Church established the first Sunday School in South Carolina. Open to visitors when our tour guides are available.

150 Meeting Street
Charleston,, SC
Phone: 843-577-6400

Congregation Beth Elohim
Congregation Beth Elohim is the second oldest synagogue in the United States and the oldest in continuous use. It was the birthplace of American Reform Judaism in 1824. The first Jews began to settle in Charleston soon after 1670, attracted by the civil and religious freedom of South Carolina and its economic opportunities. By 1749, there were sufficient numbers to organize a congregation, Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, and to consecrate a house of worship. A large and handsome synagogue was built in 1794 and destroyed by fire in 1838. The present structure, constructed in 1840, is considered one of the country's finest examples of Greek Revival architecture. Also on premises are a Judaic gift shop and museum . Open to the public Mon. - Fri. 10 am - noon. Normal services are Friday evenings at 8:15pm and at 11 am on Saturday.

90 Hasell St.
Charleston, SC
Phone: 843-723-1090
or Gift Shop 843-723-7324
Fax: 843-723-0537

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church
In 1791, the Free African Society, composed of both slaves and free Negroes, was formed in Charleston and later became known as the Bethel Circuit. Morris Brown led the movement in Charleston to organize the Negro Methodist into an independent organization, and in 1818 a modest house of worship, Emmanuel Church, was erected. In 1822 Denmark Vessey laid plans in this church for an insurrection. Word leaked out to the authorities about the rebellion and the church was closed. In 1865, the church was reorganized and the present edifice was erected in 1891.

110 Calhoun St.
Charleston, SC
Phone: 843-722-2561

First (Scots) Presbyterian Church
First (Scots) Presbyterian Church was organized in 1731 by Caledonian immigrants who would not become members of the Anglican faith. The present church, built in 1814, displays the seal of the Church of Scotland in the window over the main entrance. The bells, which the congregation voted to give to the Confederacy in 1863, have never been replaced.

53 Meeting St.
Charleston, SC
Phone: 843-722-8882

First Baptist Church
Located in the Historic District near the Battery. First Baptist Church is the oldest Baptist Church in the South, founded in 1682. The present sanctuary building, designed by Robert Mills, was completed in 1822. Sunday services, 8:45am worship, 9:45 am bible school, 11am worship and 6:30 pm vesper service.

48 Meeting St.
Charleston, SC
Phone: 843-722-3896

Mt. Zion A.M.E. Church
This is the first brick church building owned by Blacks in Charleston. The building was purchased in 1882 by members of Emanuel AME Church to alleviate its overcrowded conditions. The 54th and 55th Massachusetts regiments worshipped here while stationed in Charleston. With its six different choirs, it is the only church in Charleston that offers the widest variety of service music, ranging from classical to original unarranged Negro spirituals dating before the 1900's. Services at 7:30 and 11:15 a.m. on Sundays.

5 Glebe Street
Charleston, SC 29401
Phone: 843-722-8118

St. John's Lutheran Church
St. John's Lutheran Church is the mother church of Lutherans in South Carolina, and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 1992. Founded by German immigrants, the first recorded service was held May 26, 1734. the congregation was established in 1742 by Henry Melchior Muhlenburg. The first building on the site was begun in 1759 and replaced by the present building in 1817. Handicapped accessible on Sundays, weekdays by request.

Corner of Clifford and Archdale Sts.
Charleston, SC
Phone: 843-723-2426

St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church
St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church, the oldest Roman Catholic Church in South Carolina and the Mother Church of the Dioceses of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia, was established in 1789. The present building, replacing an earlier one which was destroyed by fire in 1838, was completed in 1839.

89 Hasell St. Charleston, SC Phone: 843-722-7696

St. Matthew's Lutheran Church The second Lutheran congregation organized in Charleston in 1840, primarily for German-speaking settlers. The present Gothic building, with its 297-ft. steeple, was erected in 1872 and was rebuilt following a devastating fire in 1965. Spectacular stained glass windows tell biblical stories. Open Monday - Friday 8:30am - 4:30pm.

405 King Street
Charleston, SC
Phone: 843-723-1611

St. Michael's Episcopal Church
Completed in 1761, St. Michael's Episcopal Church is the oldest church edifice in the city and one of the few city churches in America to retain its original design. It was here that George Washington worshipped during his tour of the South in 1791. The clock and ring of eight bells in St. Michael's steeple were imported in 1764. Except for short absences (during the Revolution they were returned to England as a prize of war, and during the Civil War they were burned and had to be sent to England for recasting), these bells have shared the lives of Charlestonians for over 200 years.

Meeting at Broad St.
Charleston, SC
Phone: 843-723-0603

St. Phillip's Episcopal Church
St. Philip's Episcopal Church (est. 1670), Mother Church of the Province, originally stood on the site where St. Michael's stands today. The second structure at the present site was completed in 1724 but destroyed by fire in 1835. The present building was constructed 1835-1838. During the Civil War its bells were converted into cannon. On July 4, 1976, new bells were placed in the steeple, and again St. Phillip's bells can call the faithful to worship. St. Phillip's was known as the lighthouse church, a light having been put into the steeple to help guide ships to port. The federal government actually maintained this light early into this century. In St. Phillip's churchyard are the graves of John C. Calhoun, Secretary of War and Vice President of the United States; Edward Rutledge, signer of the Declaration of Independence; Charles Pinckney, signer of the Constitution; and Dubose Heyward, author of "Porgy."

146 Church St.
Charleston, SC
Phone: 843-722-7734

The French Protestant (Huguenot) Church
Built in 1844-1845, the fourth church at this site was designed by Edward B. White. As early as 1687, French Huguenots, fleeing France to avoid religious persecution, were worshipping in a church on the site. Service are held each Sunday at 10:30 am. An annual French Liturgy service is still held each spring.

136 Church St.
Charleston, SC
Phone: 843-722-4385

The Old Bethel Methodist Church
The Old Bethel Methodist Church (formerly Bethel Methodist Church) was dedicated in 1798 to accommodate the expanding congregation of the Blue Meeting House on Cumberland Street. When the congregation of Bethel Methodist Church began construction of its present church in 1852, the earlier church was moved slightly to the west and used for class meetings of black members. In 1880, it was moved across the street and given to the black congregation.

222 Calhoun St.
Charleston, SC
Phone: 843-722-3470

The Old St. Andrews Parish Church
The oldest surviving church in the Carolinas, founded and built in 1706; a number of historic tombs are located in the church yard. The Annual Tea Room and Gift Shop each spring serves a Lowcountry menu.

2604 Ashley River Rd. Charleston, SC Phone: 843-766-1541

The Second Presbyterian Church
The Second Presbyterian Church building is the oldest edifice of this faith in the historic section of Charleston, built in 1809 by James and John Gordon and dedicated on April 3, 1811. The sanctuary was so immense that it was a strain on the ministers' voices to be heard. In 1833, the floor was raised three feet, the ceiling lowered 16 feet, and a part of the sanctuary cut off to make an enlarged vestibule. The entrances on the north and south sides were closed. The old box pews were replaced in 1849. The Presbyterian Church of the United States designated this church Historical Site Number One.

Meeting at Charlotte St.
Charleston, SC
Phone: 843-723-9237

The Unitarian Church
The Unitarian Church was chartered originally as the Second Independent or Congregational Church and was an adjunct of the Circular Church on Meeting Street. In 1817, the Unitarian and Trinitarian Congregationalists divided, the Unitarians settling on Archdale Street. The building was begun in 1722, but work was interrupted by the Revolution, and it was not completed until 1787. In 1852, the congregation remodeled the building after plans by Francis D. Lee inspired by the Chapel of Henry VII in Westminster Abbey. The unusual fan tracery in the ceiling in the interior is unique in the United States.

4 Archdale St.
Charleston, SC
Phone: 843-723-4617

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