St. Philip's Episcopal Church (Charleston, South Carolina)

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St. Philip's Church
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St. Philip's Church
St. Philip's Episcopal Church (Charleston, South Carolina) is located in South Carolina
St. Philip's Episcopal Church (Charleston, South Carolina)
St. Philip's Episcopal Church (Charleston, South Carolina) is located in the US
St. Philip's Episcopal Church (Charleston, South Carolina)
Location 142 Church Street, Charleston, South Carolina
Coordinates 32°46′45″N 79°55′45″W / 32.77917°N 79.92917°W / 32.77917; -79.92917Coordinates: 32°46′45″N 79°55′45″W / 32.77917°N 79.92917°W / 32.77917; -79.92917
Built 1835-1836, building; steeple, 1848-1850
Architect Joseph Hyde, building; Edward Brickell White, steeple
Part of Charleston Historic District (#66000964)
NRHP Reference # 73001695
Significant dates
Added to NRHP November 7, 1973[1]
Designated NHL November 7, 1973[2]
Designated NHLDCP October 9, 1960

St. Philip's Church is an historic church at 142 Church Street in Charleston, South Carolina. Its National Historic Landmark description states: "Built in 1836 (spire completed in 1850), this stuccoed brick church features an imposing tower designed in the Wren-Gibbs tradition. Three Tuscan pedimented porticoes contribute to this design to make a building of the highest quality and sophistication."[2] On November 7, 1973, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark. [3][4]


Alexander Christie House, ca. 1805, a handsome Adam style single house and gabled carriage house was built on lot 36 of Grand Model House. It has been rectory of St. Philips Church since 1908. A successful scot, Alexander Christie built the house as his residence and place of business

Established in 1681, St. Philip's is the oldest religious congregation in South Carolina. The first St. Philip's Church, a wooden building, was built between 1680 and 1681 at the corner of Broad and Meeting streets on the present day site of St. Michael's Episcopal Church. It was damaged in a hurricane in 1710 and a new St. Phillip's Church was begun a few blocks away on Church Street. After being delayed it was finished in 1723 but burned to the ground in 1835.[5] Work on the present church was begun that same year and completed the next. The steeple was added between 1848 and 1850.[6][7]

A prominent early rector of St. Philip's was Rev. Thomas Frost, a fellow of Caius College, Cambridge,[8] who became rector of St. Philip's in 1785.[9] Rev. Frost died in 1804 at 46 years of age.[10] Rev. Thomas Downes Frost, son of the first rector Frost, was elected assistant minister of St. Philip's on March 12, 1815.[11] The second Rev. Frost died an early death at age 26 in 1819.

The wife of another early rector, Gideon Johnston, was Henrietta Johnston, who became the first recorded female artist in the American colonies. Another artistic first with connections to the church was Mary Roberts, the first female American miniaturist, whose burial was recorded in the register in 1761.[12]

The tower of St. Philip's served for many years as the rear tower of a set of range lighthouses serving to guide mariners into Charleston's harbor; the front tower of the range was located on Fort Sumter. The church is one of only two in the United States known to have served such a function.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b "St. Philip's Church". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-03-23. 
  3. ^ "SCDAH". 
  4. ^ Tray Stephenson and Bernard Kearse (April 23, 1973). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: St. Philip's Church" (pdf). National Park Service.  and Accompanying two photos, exterior, from 1960 (32 KB)
  5. ^ "Destructive Fire and Conflagration of St. Philip's Church". The Southern Patriot. Charleston, South Carolina. February 16, 1835. p. 2. 
  6. ^ "Welcome to St. Michael's Church - St. Michaels Church - Downtown Charleston, SC - Anglican". St. Michaels Church - Downtown Charleston, SC - Anglican. 
  7. ^ "St. Philip's Episcopal Church history". 
  8. ^ "Frost, Thomas (FRST775T)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  9. ^ Hemphill, James Calvin (16 June 2017). "Men of Mark in South Carolina: Ideals of American Life: a Collection of Biographies of Leading Men of the State". Men of Mark Publishing Company – via Google Books. 
  10. ^ Frost, Thomas Gold; Frost, Edward Lysander (16 June 2017). "Frost Family in England and America, with Special Reference to Edmund Frost and Some of His Descendants". Russell Print. Company – via Google Books. 
  11. ^ Dexter, Franklin Bowditch (16 June 2017). "Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College: With Annals of the College History". Holt – via Google Books. 
  12. ^ Saunders, Richard H. and Ellen G. Miles. American Colonial Portraits · 1700-1776. Washington, D.C.; Smithsonian Institution Press, 1987. pp. 94-97, p. 163
  13. ^ "Lighthouse Digest - America's Lighthouse News & History Magazine". 

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