“An architectural jewel in the midst of the S.C. upcountry.”
City Directories and History: This is the oldest church building in continuous use in the city of Laurens and was constructed by local artisan, Thomas Badgett using
brick from his brickyard near Watt’s Mill. Thomas L. Badgett comes to Spartanburg County in the early 1830’s from Yanceyville. N. C. to help build the Bivings Factory at Glendale, S. C. for Dr. James Bivings of Lincolnton, N. C. It was a four story New England style mill with a stone first level and brick upper stories. He was in Spartanburg in 1844 were he contracted to build the First Presbyterian Church on 3 June 1844 for $1,820.00. He relocated from Spartanburg County to Laurens County sometime before 1846 when he designed and built the Church of the Epiphany on West Main Street in Laurens. Thomas Badgett owned a brick kiln in Laurens County as well as a cotton gin and grist mill.
“The American colonies from the beginning were placed under the spiritual guidance or care of the Bishop of London and made a part of his diocese. In 1701, to aid in carrying the gospel to the increasing white population, as well as to furnish religious instruction to the Indians, pious Englishmen brought into existence an organization known as the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. The British colonies in America and in the West Indies formed the field for the activities of the organization. Colonial church history is filled with references to both the Bishop of London and to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel.
The first settlement made in South Carolina was at Charles Town in 1670. and the first record of any Episcopal church is that of Saint Philip’s about the year 1681. In 1706 there was one parish in Craven County, now Laurens County. (Tri-Centennial Edition 1970 Commemorative History).
The Church of the Epiphany is the oldest church building still in use in the town of Laurens and the oldest of its faith in the county. The building was erected in 1846 on land which was a gift from Colonel James H. Irby. During the same year, Doctor N. V. Bailey of the local membership took his seat as a lay delegate at the Diocesan Convention of South Carolina. The Reverend Richard S. Seely is the first listed rector.
During the War Between the States, many refugees from the Low Country came to Laurens County, and a majority of them became members of the Church of the Epiphany. In spite of the growth in membership, the small church was closed for several years during the disastrous period of Reconstruction, but services were resumed in 1882.
The history of this church is rich in service and sacrifices, for the early communicants strove to keep alive the Anglican tradition in Laurens County. Many of the rectors have gone from here to stations of great responsibility. The Reverend Albert Rhett Stuart served the Laurens church from 1931 until 1936. In 1954 he became the Right Reverend Albert Rhett Stuart, Bishop of the Diocese of Georgia. Two years later Bishop Stuart visited the Laurens church and took part in its one hundredth anniversary celebration.”
Information from: The Laurens County Sketchbook, Author – J.S. Bolick, 1973
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In 1850 builder Thomas Badgett also built a Greek Revival house on Hwy. 49 north of Laurens, S.C. and used Asher Benjamin’s pattern book of 1833 in its design.
Thomas L. Badgett was born in 1814 in Yanceyville, N. C. and died in Laurens County in September of 1894 and is buried in the Laurens City Cemetery. He was the son of Thomas L. Badgett, Sr. who was born in Person, N. C. in 1779 and was listed in the 1840 census as a carpenter. [It has been reported that Joel R. Poinsett acted as the architect of this building and it cost, $2,230. to complete.] [BS]
Thomas L. Badgett’s projects:
1835 J. Frank Wofford House Switzer, S.C.
1838 James Nesbit House (Mountain Shoals) Enoree, S.C.
1839 Christopher Garlington House, Laurens, S.C.
1844 First Presbyterian Church, Spartanburg, S.C.
1846 The Church of the Epiphany, Laurens, S.C.
1848 Drummond House Switzer, S.C.
1850 Enlarging of the Christopher Garlington House for Major John Adam Eichelberger, Laurens, S.C.
1850 Thomas L. Badgett House, Hwy. 49 Laurens County, S.C.
1854 Fontaine Martin House, near Gray Court, S. C.
1859 Brick House, Caroline Street, Laurens, S.C.
Thomas L. Badgett used two pattern books for some of his designs. They were: William Pane’s pattern book of 1792 and Asher Benjamin’s pattern book of 1833.
See numerous listings on R&R for homes constructed by Badgett, a contractor – mechanic, who had relocated to the region from Yancey County, N.C.
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