“York hires a Charleston architect to build a handsome place of worship.”
City Directories and History: 1908 – Rev. E.E. Gillespie, 1958 – First Pres. Church, 1966 – First Pres. Church Kindergarten, Yorkville Township Free Library
When York is touted as “The Charleston of the Up Country,” we would do well to reflect that the place had humble beginnings. In its formative years, 1786 to 1800, it was an unimportant hamlet, with only a handful of residents and even fewer buildings. All the structures were made of wood (usually logs), with the possible exception of the second courthouse, a small, one-story brick building erected in 1794 next to the original log courthouse. It is doubtful that there was another brick or stone structure in the community until the first decade of the nineteenth century. (The second brick structure was probably a two-story house erected on Liberty Street Lot No. 4 by John McCaw, Esq., between 1801 and 1816. The present building of the First Presbyterian Church of York now stands on that site.) Information from: The Genesis of York, by Wm. B. White, Jr., Yorkville Historical Society, 2015 – Jostens Publishing Company
The Rock Hill Herald reported on Oct. 24, 1896 – “The WILLING WORKERS SOCIETY of the York Presbyterian Church have ordered a chandelier costing $225., which they will present to the church.”
A noted South Carolina architect from Charleston, George E. Walker, designed this church in 1846. Construction of the building did not begin until the early 1860s, about the time of the War Between the States, and it was not
completed until after the War. (Thomas Hyde Smith, a local York builder is credited by with its construction.) The 19th century architectural influence is evident in the pew gates, which were used to enter the pews. A gallery lined three sides of the original sanctuary, and part of it remains in the form of a balcony in the rear of the sanctuary. The chancel was the focal point with a single uplifted pulpit. It was converted in 1949 to the divided chancel and choir loft which you see today. [Printed in part – courtesy of the Yorkville Historical Society]
Mr. Walker built – designed significant numbers of important church buildings in South Carolina including Trinity Episcopal Church in Abbeville, S.C. and the S.C., Mental Asylum. The 1910 Sanborn Map shows no expansion of the Presbyterian Church at that time.
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