“One of the region’s most interesting pieces of religious architecture – Lancaster’s art center.”
307 Gay Street
City Directories and History: The congregation organized in May of 1835 under the leadership of James H. Thornwell and began construction of the present building in 1862. Charlotte, N.C. contractor, Sidney Reeding or Reading was charged with the work at a cost of over $5,123.30.
In 2014, the church building is being restored by the Lancaster County Historical Society under the watchful eye of historian Lindsay Pettus. The church’s stained glass windows, brickwork, interior plaster, cemetery and grounds are all under renovation and restoration.
Lancaster Presbyterian Church has played an integral part in this community’s history since the mid-1800s. Completed ca. 1862, the present church is thought to have been the first brick church in Lancaster County. The walls are of handmade brick. Basilican in plan, the church features a gallery along the sides and back of the sanctuary and culminates in an arched pulpit apse. The walls are stuccoed and scored to resemble stone. Interesting details include hood moldings over the arches, cornice brackets with pendants under the gallery, and round wooden columns supporting the gallery. The Lancasterville Presbyterian Church was organized in 1835, and in 1860 the congregation decided to erect a new church (the present structure) on the site of the original one. The contract was given to Sidney Retting of Charlotte, North Carolina, and the church was completed by January 1862. Designed in the Early Gothic Revival style, the church was dedicated on March 29, 1862. A cemetery dating from the 1830s is located to the left and rear of the church, and many of its graves are of Lancaster’s leading citizens. In 1926, the congregation moved to a new church on Main Street in Lancaster. The old structure was then used by another church and later by the Masons. In 1962 it was purchased by Dr. Benjamin F. Emanuel under whose direction it became the Carolina Museum. Unoccupied since 1972, the church was purchased in 1976 by the Lancaster County Society for Historical Preservation, Inc. Listed in the National Register December 16, 1977. [Courtesy of the SC Dept. of Archives and History] The original structure cost $5,132.30 (BS)
The Rock Hill Herald reported on June 28, 1883 – “The Presbyterians in Lancaster are building an elegant Parsonage near their church.”
The Lancaster News reported on Aug. 2, 1899 – “That architect White (Hugh E. White) of Rock Hill was here this week for the purpose of devising a plan for remodeling the Presbyterian church. He will submit his plans later. This church is already one of the handsomest in town.”
Also see PDF this page: GUIDE TO PRESBYTERIAN NAMES AND PLACES IN SC by J.B. Martin, III – 1989
PHOTO GALLERY – Courtesy of photographer, Chris Lange – 2018
R&R Notes: Rev. James Ruet Gilland was born in Franklin Co., Pennsylvania, and died in Williamsburg Co., S.C. He was a son of Thomas I. Gilland and his wife, Jane McDowell. Both Thomas and Jane Gilland were buried in York Co., S.C. Rev. J.R. Gilland was pastor of both Old Waxhaw and the Lancasterville Presbyterian churches from 1840 to 1842. Descendants of Rebecca Hutchison and J.R. Gilland, having the names McCuthen and Cottingham, are still living in the Kingstree area today. (Along the Lands Ford Road, Wm. B. White, Jr., Vol. II.)
See the Built of Brick Jaunt – Driving Tour
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