City Directories and History: FRENCH PROTESTANT (HUGUENOT) CHURCH
Congregation organized at this site 1687; present structure built 1844-47; restored 1888, 1987, 1996
Edward Brickell White, architect; Ephraim Curtis, builder
“After organizing in 1687 as an official outgrowth of a French Protestant church at Pons in France, the congregation members left the fledgling Congregational meeting house nearby and constructed a church on land at this corner, donated by the Izard family. The original masonry building was blown up as a firebreak (unsuccessful) during the 1796 fire, and its simpler replacement, closed due to an inactive congregation in 1823, was torn down by the next generation of Huguenot descendants in order to erect the present church. Begun in 1844 and completed in 1845, the French Huguenot Church was designed by the Charleston architect Edward Brickell White. Built at the cost of $12,000, the Huguenot Church was Charleston’s first Gothic Revival ecclesiastical building. The simple gable form of the exterior derives its ornamentation from the buttresses surmounted by cast-iron pinnacles, the lancet windows, and the crenellated parapet. On the interior the railed chancel and pulpit stand beneath the Gothic case of the original Henry Erben organ installed in 1847, and the liturgical tablets and marble memorial plaques dedicated to prominent Huguenot families line walls below a vaulted ceiling of plaster with rosette bosses.
The restoration of the building—damaged in the siege of 1864 and nearly destroyed in the earthquake—by the Lanier family of New York inaugurated a period of the church’s primary use as a shrine to all Huguenot settlers of the New World, marked by the marble plaques dating from the late- nineteenth century to the early-twentieth century. Relegated for several decades to a single service a year in French, descendants of original members came back in the 1980s and restored the church’s regular membership with weekly services and programs and rehabilitated the building. The paint scheme with scored plaster walls, the restoration of the chandelier and light fixtures, and the regilding and painting of the tablets are the most tangible results of the interior restora-tion. The churchyard retains several large family vaults including that of the Manigault family, used 1729—1870, and eighteenth-century New England gravestones marking the burials of members of the Bocquet, Neufville and other families.”
Information from: The Buildings of Charleston – J.H. Poston for the Historic Charleston Foundation, 1997
Also be sure to enjoy: The French Huguenot Church of Charleston
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