Circular Congregational Church, Charleston

Circular Congregational Church, Charleston

Originally known as the Independent Church of Charles Towne, this church was founded in 1681 by some of the earliest settlers, including English Congregationalists, Scots Presbyterians, and French Huguenots. In fact, it was one of the first two congregations established in the settlement, the other being Saint Philip's Church.

The initial structure, made of white bricks, was known by locals as the "White Meeting House", which gave rise to the name of Meeting Street. In 1780, during the siege of Charleston, it was struck by a British cannonball, leading to its replacement in 1806 with the first "Circular Church", an impressive Pantheon-style structure designed by Charleston's esteemed architect, Robert Mills. Described at the time as "the most extraordinary building in the U.S.", it featured seven doors, 26 windows, and could accommodate 2,000 people, including both black and white congregants.

Unfortunately, the walls of the Circular Church did not survive for long, as the devastating fire of 1861 consumed the city. The third and current church, not precisely circular but designed with a modified cloverleaf pattern, was completed in 1892, using bricks salvaged from its predecessor. Alongside its unique architectural significance and rich history, the building also serves as a splendid venue for musical events held throughout the year.

Lying adjacent, the parish house is yet another remarkable Greek Revival creation by Robert Mills, featuring twin stairways and wrought iron railings. It has survived over the years and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1973.

The city's oldest cemetery, located at the church, is also noteworthy as it contains numerous tombstones dating back to the 1690s.

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Circular Congregational Church on Map

Sight Name: Circular Congregational Church
Sight Location: Charleston, USA (See walking tours in Charleston)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Charleston, South Carolina

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