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Title 126 Coming Street (Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul)
Object Type Property File
Scope & Content Constructed 1811-16; restored 1990-91. John Gordon and James Gordon, builders. The first discussion concerning the construction of a third Episcopal church in the city appears in the records of St. Michael's in 1806. This impetus, however, seems to have been thwarted by President Jefferson's embargo. The reasons for building a third church are, unfortunately, not clear. Both Mills and Frederick Dalcho allude to the increase in Episcopalian membership, but the "History of St. Paul's Church" argues that there were other reasons as well. It states that three factors encouraged the construction of a third church: the need for more room; the convenience of those living in the northern suburbs; and a group with personal preferences for a particular minister, Dr. Percy, who had recently been relieved of duties at St. Philip's. In 1810 a building committee was formed, and the new congregation met in the Huguenot Church while their building was being constructed. Four lots were donated by Mrs. Lucretia Radcliffe on Coming Street, and the cornerstone was laid on November 19, 1811. James and John Gordon, builders of Second Presbyterian Church on Meeting Street, were chosen as builders and their plan for the church accepted. Robert Jackson and Robert Galbraith were responsible for the carpentry work. As with the other church, cost overruns and engineering difficulties plagued the structure, which was finally completed in 1816. Rev. J. Stewart Hanckel (assistant rector, 1838-51) recalled, "Its cost far exceeded the original estimates, having been greatly increased by errors in judgment, etc., on the part of the architects and contractors. The construction of the steeple had to be abandoned and the present tower substituted; even this had to be lightened, by the removal of vast masses of brickwork, to arrest the settling of the steeple and the cracking of the main walls." He also reported that the building was in frequent need of repairs amounting to nearly $120,000 (as much as the original cost of the building). Further information concerning the interior is provided by Reverend Hanckel who reports that despite another description of a "richly painted" chancel, the interior was not as grandly fitted out as had been originally intended. Recent paint research confirms the use of gilding for capitals of pilasters and of graining on doors, the balcony fronts, and the wainscot. Other evidence indicates a light yellow on the columns that may have been the base for a decorative treatment such as marbleizing, although clear evidence for such a treatment was not discovered. The plaster walls were painted a lime white, and much of the wood trim was painted a light gray. This general scheme was restored after Hurricane Hugo. James Gordon died in 1814 before the church was completed. John Gordon continued his work as a bricklayer and builder after his brother's death, working on other commissions as well. In 1819 he purchased his first plantation, and as his fortunes rose so did his social aspirations, for in the 1831 directory he listed himself as a planter. John Gordon died in 1835 at the age of 48.

File contains building history from Information for Guides of Historic Charleston, City of Charleston Tour Guide Training Manual, Architectural Guide to Charleston, and Vernacular Architecture of the Lowcountry; newspaper article (ca. 1936) about the church's 127th anniversary; handwritten staff research "source notes" (scant).
Subjects Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul (Charleston, S.C.)
Church buildings
Episcopal churches
Search Terms Churches/Synagogues/Houses of Worship
Radcliffeborough and Cannonborough
Coming Street
Physical Description 1 File Folder
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Object ID # COMING.126.1