Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Pretty, Old Lowcountry Church

The Church of the Holy Trinity is the only thing left of the ghost town of Grahamville, originally a town of summer homes for the rice planters of the area, built after the American Revolution. The present church building was completed in 1858, the third one to stand on this spot.

The Carpenter Gothic style of the church developed as a carpenter’s interpretatipn of the Gothic Revival architecture of England, with English masonry designs translated into wooden construction.

The wheel window over the door and the buttressed 3-stage bell tower are typical of Gothic Revival design.




The interior is warm, rich, and fragrant with its timber beam ceilings and old yellow pine pews.



An original old lamp, electrified now, still lights the entryway.

The bell tower has an exterior entrance to the stairway leading up to the old slave gallery, which now houses a pipe organ. Many plantation owners insisted their slaves attend the white church on Sunday mornings, fearful that left to their own devices they would plot rebellion. The preacher preached a separate message for the slaves emphasizing strict obedience to their masters.

Former slave Sarah Fitzpatrick, in her 90s in the 1930s when she was interviewed for papers collected by theTuskegee Institute in Alabama, had this to say about her memories of attending church in the days of slavery.

Ya’see, us "Niggers" had our meetin’ in de white fo’ks Baptist Church in de town o’ Tuskegee. Dere’s a place up in de loft dere now dat dey built fer de "Nigger" slaves to ‘tend church wid de white fo’ks. White preacher he preach to de white fo’ks an’ when he git thu’ wid dem he preach some to de "Niggers". Tell’em to mind deir Marster an’ b’have deyself an’ dey’ll go to Hebben when dey die.

The entire fascinating interview is in a book by John Blassingame called Slave Testimony.


The church is set in a grove of large live oaks, which were planted 150 years ago by the ladies of the congregation.

During the Civil War, it escaped complete destruction because it was being used as headquarters for the Union army as they moved through the area.

The interior was desecrated by the soldiers and the church Bible was stolen. In 1928 it reappeared, mailed back to the church from a northern state with a note saying the sender had found it in his attic.




  1. Cynthia definitely nice church in English style. I love the wheel windows which were also popular in European churches

  2. It all looks so peaceful now. From the inside it could be mistaken for an English country church.

  3. Wonderful report, Cynthia. Such fascinating history.
    Loved your report of the former slave - I can just visualise and hear the
    pronunciation. She must have been just a kid pre-the Civil War.

    I somehow always associated this area of the South with the French and Irish
    influence of the planter fraternity and thus more Catholic initially.
    Maybe I am caught up with the O'Hara influence of G.W.T.W. ???

    PS: As for weather here - who bloody knows what the day will bring.
    Certainly not the overpaid forecasters - ha ha. Umbrellas are now
    part and parcel of the going out gear.

  4. What a gorgeous church! The ceiling is so unusual.

  5. I like how you told the history of the church by using real people and what they did. It's amazing that it's stood for so long.

  6. What a interesting church, I loved being able to peek inside! It looks so comfortable...I smiled at the chair wired at the bottom:)

  7. The church is beautiful nestled under the trees. The history is interesting too especially about the slave times.

  8. Oh, I enjoyed that. Lovely looking church and a fascinating history, well told. Let's hope we all get to hebben together!

  9. I liked to read the story about this church, One should learn of history, some things have improved but not all unfortunately. The slaves had a terrible time to be exploited and kept down.

  10. Lovely church. I have read about the slaves going to the white churches, very interesting.

  11. Cynthia, I love the old churches with their wood and stained glass windows. Hope they continue to take care of this one.

  12. This is very interesting. I had never heard of Carpenter Gothic. Interesting that the Bible was returned from someone in the North.

  13. What interesting thoughts and photos indeed. Greetings!

  14. Well it's definitely not Chartre but has a really interesting history. I like that...:)

  15. What interesting history this church has. I love the wood ceiling and detail.

  16. I liked the quoted material of the slave. The interior of the church is indeed very attractive and warm.

  17. How amazingly beautiful. I love history.