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St. Philip's Church

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Attractions Details

📌 Address

142 Church St, Charleston, SC 29401, USA

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 12:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

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expert
Colm
Local tour guide
"Visit St. Philip's Church in Charleston during the weekdays when the crowds are thinner, and check out the historic cemetery, where you'll find easier access to the graves of prominent figures in South Carolina history; it's an intimate look at the past that many weekend visitors miss."

What is St. Philip's Church?

St. Philip's Church is one of Charleston's most treasured landmarks, situated in the heart of the city's historic district. This remarkable building serves as a beacon of faith and history, showcasing beautiful architecture that has withstood the test of time. As you set your eyes upon its towering steeple, you're not just looking at any church, but at a cornerstone of Charleston’s identity and a testament to the city's resilience and devotion.

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Known officially as the St. Philip's Episcopal Church, its presence commands attention on Church Street, with a storied past that echoes through its hallowed walls. The church is not only a place of worship but also a repository of Charleston's colonial legacy, woven into the fabric of American history. For those seeking to connect with Charleston's historical and cultural soul, St. Philip's isn't a stop to be missed; it's an experience to be cherished.

History of St. Philip's Church

The origins of St. Philip's Church date back to the late 17th century, making it the oldest religious congregation in South Carolina. Initially built as a modest wooden structure around 1680, it has witnessed Charleston's evolution from its colonial infancy to its current charm. The original building was replaced with a more substantial brick church in 1723, which unfortunately burned down in a catastrophic fire in the early 1830s.


The St. Philip's you see today is the third edifice, completed in 1838, an architectural gem designed in the Wren-Gibbs tradition. This structure, with a striking portico and columns, has endured the Civil War, earthquakes, and hurricanes, symbolizing the city's fortitude. Among its many roles, it served as a place of solace during tumultuous times and has seen generations come and go, each leaving its mark and story within its walls.

Why is St. Philip's Church Important?

St. Philip's Church is important not only for its historical significance in Charleston's narrative but also for its cultural and spiritual roles in the community. It's the final resting place for numerous figures who have shaped South Carolina's and indeed America's history. Beyond its appeal as a historical site, St. Philip's continues to be an active place of Anglican worship, fostering a sense of living history.

The Church also stands as a striking example of early American ecclesiastical architecture. Its steeple, once the tallest structure in the United States, was a guiding landmark for ships entering Charleston Harbor. Such a beacon, both literal and figurative, resonates with the spirit of Charleston, a city that prides itself on tradition, history, and the continuous narrative of its community.

Things to Do & See at St. Philip's Church

Visitors to St. Philip's Church are treated to a blend of spiritual, architectural, and historical marvels. Start by exploring the churchyard, where you’ll find ancient graves and notable tombstones, including those of statesman John C. Calhoun and signers of the Declaration of Independence. I always recommend taking a moment to reflect on the lives of those who helped shape the history around us—their stories are engraved in every marker.

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Don't miss the chance to bask in the architectural wonder by entering the church itself. Admire the majestic nave, the ornate window tracery, and the cozy box pews that echo the past. The stained glass windows are not just works of art; they cast colorful light that tells biblical stories and honors past parishioners, making the interior a serene and enlightening space to wander or sit in quiet contemplation.

For those fond of music, the church is celebrated for its heavenly choir and historic organ, and attending a service or concert is a magical and often transformative experience. Be sure to check the schedule for special events; whether it's Christmas time for carols or any of the organ recitals throughout the year, music here transcends the ordinary. For a deeper dive, guided tours are available—behind every corner and within every crevice, there are anecdotes and details that illuminate the overarching story of St. Philip's Church.

Frequently asked questions

What is the history of St. Philip's Church in Charleston?

St. Philip's Church, known for its historical significance, is a notable site in Charleston with a history dating back to the colonial era. It was established for the Church of England in the early 1680s. The current building is the third structure to house the congregation and reflects the colonial and antebellum periods of Charleston's past.

What architectural style is St. Philip's Church designed in?

St. Philip's Church is designed in the Georgian architectural style, which is characterized by its symmetrical design, classic proportions, and use of decorative elements such as columns and pediments, reflecting the aesthetics of the time during which it was built.

Can visitors attend services at St. Philip's Church?

Yes, visitors are usually welcome to attend services at St. Philip's Church. It is an active congregation that offers regular worship services. However, visitors should check the church’s current schedule for services and any visitor guidelines.

Is there a graveyard at St. Philip's Church, and who is buried there?

Yes, there is a graveyard at St. Philip's Church, which is known for its historical significance. The graveyard is the final resting place for several notable figures from South Carolina's history, including statesmen and signers of the United States Constitution.

How can I tour St. Philip's Church and what should I expect?

To tour St. Philip's Church, you can usually join a guided tour or visit during designated times when the church is open to the public. During the tour, visitors can expect to learn about the church’s rich history, architectural details, and see historical artefacts and memorials inside the church.

Attractions Details

📌 Address

142 Church St, Charleston, SC 29401, USA

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 12:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

Find it on google maps