132 Center Street
City Directories and History: Built in 1878-79, an uncommon example of Gothic Revival architecture made highly popular just before the Civil War that continued thriving as public institutions for the following twenty years. This design has been “reported” to be an adaptation of Samuel Sloan’s architectural style, which was widely distributed via books, and news articles. Besides the Episcopal church, the Methodist and ARP’s, have also worship at this sanctuary.
Architect, Samuel Sloan may have had a hand in providing the inspiration for this handsome building, to local business leader, Mr. Joseph Wylie. More likely, Wylie or the church’s contractor had access to Sloan’s widely used pattern book and worked with the Episcopal Diocese architect: the Rev. McCollough to finalize the plans. See an extensive history this page.
The carpentry was completed by George A. Albright, a highly skilled artisan-carpenter, from Chester and was plastered by J.R. Simrill and painted by Joseph Walker.
Reportedly the church cost a total of $2,600. when completed in 1879.
The Rock Hill Herald on Oct. 4, 1899 reported the congregation of St. Marks has purchased the church formerly used by the ARPs. It has been greatly improved in appearance and refitted throughout before being occupied. It is said the old Episcopal Church will be torn down and a handsome and comfortable rectory will be built.”
THE LEGACY OF REV. JOHN D. MCCOLLOUGH – DESIGNER
Yet, the S.C. Encyclopedia of the Rev. John D. McCollough, proudly proclaims it was his design used as the model for Saint Mark’s Church.
The original church is attributable to Rector, the Rev. John D. McCollough December 8, 1822—January 23, 1902, who provided S.C. some outstanding examples of church architecture from a very early age until his death in 1902.
Minister, architect. McCollough was born at Society Hill on December 8, 1822, the only child of John Lane McCollough and Sarah DeWitt. Educated at St. David’s Academy and South Carolina College, where he earned both B.A. and M.A. degrees in 1840, McCollough then became a Society Hill farmer. In June 1842 he married Harriet Bell Hart. He returned to Columbia in 1847 to prepare for the Episcopal ministry with the Reverend Peter Shand, rector of Trinity, Columbia.
In January 1848 McCullough moved his family to Glenn Springs in Spartanburg District, where he continued his theological studies, designed a small wooden church for the resort village, and carved its interior furnishings. The diocesan magazine called it “a happy specimen of simple Gothic,” with a “proper” (deeply recessed) chancel and tower.
In July 1850 Bishop C. E. Gadsden consecrated Calvary, Glenn Springs; ordained McCollough; and appointed him rector of the Church of the Advent in Spartanburg. After designing a temporary chapel for his tiny new congregation and starting missionary activity in Union, Yorkville, and Anderson, he began supervising construction for a permanent Spartanburg church and opened St. John’s Episcopal School for boys.
A craftsman without formal training, McCollough was nevertheless aware of the new ideas that were transforming Episcopal church architecture. “Ecclesiologists,” influenced by the high-church Oxford movement in England, emphasized the relationship between theology and architecture, believing that new churches should mirror fourteenth-century English Gothic design. Recessed chancels, dark interiors, stained glass, pointed arches, battlements, and cross-topped spires replaced Georgian simplicity. These concepts were disseminated to American churchmen through the journal of the New York Ecclesiology Society. A series of articles on “proper” church architecture in the Gospel Messenger, the diocesan magazine, disseminated these ideas to South Carolina.
In the decade before the Civil War, McCollough designed or was supervising architect for seven ecclesiological churches: Christ Church, Greenville (1854); St. Stephen’s, Ridgeway (1854); Nativity, Union (1859); Christ Church, Mars Bluff (1859); St. Mark’s, Chester (1860); Grace, Anderson (1860); and Advent, Spartanburg (begun 1852, consecrated 1864).
He moved in 1857 to Winnsboro and later to Union. In 1859 he returned to Spartanburg and Advent, serving as chaplain with Holcombe’s Legion during the Civil War. During Reconstruction, desperately poor South Carolinians could no longer build expensive churches. In the postbellum years McCollough provided far simpler designs for churches at Rock Hill, Gaffney, Lancaster, Blacksburg, Willington, Greenwood, Clemson, and Saluda in North Carolina.
In 1874 McCollough resigned as Spartanburg rector, but he continued missionary activity, starting congregations in Gaffney, Blacksburg, Walhalla, and Seneca and serving at Glenn Springs, Union, and Chester. He moved to Walhalla in 1890 to become rector of St. John’s, which he may have designed. He certainly was the architect for the second Calvary, Glenn Springs, and with his son, Edward, designed St. Andrews, Greenville, which was completed posthumously. McCollough died on January 23, 1902. He was buried at the Church of the Advent in Spartanburg.
Source: Bainbridge, Judith T. “Building the Walls of Jerusalem”: John DeWitt McCollough and His Churches. Spartanburg, S.C.: Reprint Company, 2000. (http://www.scencyclopedia.org/sce/entries/mccollough-john-dewitt/)
George Albright was involved in building a number of structures in Chester. He was a contemporary of J. R. Simrill. An article in the Chester Lantern 10 January 1889, describes the progress being made on the “Cotton factory building, under the superintending of President Hardin, and with brick and wood work under the management of Mr. J. R. Simrill and Mr. G. A. Albright.” (Cotton Manufacturing Company, Built 1888). The J. R. Simrill home on Saluda Street was built by George Albright according to an article in “The Chester Reporter,” May 26, 1876. An article in “The Chester Reporter” of 27 March 1879 describing the new Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (now the Episcopal Church) describes the church thus: “This new church edifice is of striking neatness and beauty. Its architecture is of Gothic Style. The design by architect, (Samuel) Sloan was selected by Mr. Joseph Wylie . . . The woodwork of the church was done by Mr. G. A. Albright, the masonry and plastering by Mr. J. R. Simrill.”
(Information in part from: Chester County Heritage Book, Vol. I, Edt. by Collins – Knox, Published by the Chester Co Hist. Society – Jostens Printing, 1982)
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IMAGE GALLERY – Courtesy of photographer Bill Segars, 2016
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