Historic Charleston Foundation logo

images banner
images banner small

Archive Record

  • Email This Page
  • Send Feedback
Object ID # CHURCH.136.1
Title 136 Church Street (French Protestant Huguenot Church)
Object Type Property File
Scope & Content Congregation organized at this site 1687; present structure built 1844-45; restored 1888, 1987, 1996. Edward Brickell White, architect; Ephraim Curtis, builder. After organizing in 1687 as an official outgrowth of a French Protestant church at Pons in France, the congregation members left the fledgling Congregational church nearby and constructed a church on land at this corner, donated by the Izard family. The original masonry building was blown up as a firebreak (unsuccessful) during the 1796 fire, and its simpler replacement, closed due to an inactive congregation in 1823, was torn down by the next generation of Huguenot descendants in order to erect the present church. Begun in 1844 and completed in 1845, the French Huguenot Church was designed by the Charleston architect Edward Brickell White. Built at the cost of $12,000, the Huguenot Church was Charleston's first Gothic Revival ecclesiastical building. The simple gable form of the exterior derives its ornamentation from the buttresses surmounted by cast-iron pinnacles, the lancet windows, and the crenellated parapet. On the interior the railed chancel and pulpit stand beneath the Gothic case of the original Henry Erben organ installed in 1847, and the liturgical tablet and marble memorial tablets dedicated to prominent Huguenot families line walls below a vaulted ceiling in plaster with rosette bosses. The restoration of the building--damaged in the siege of 1864 and nearly destroyed in the earthquake--by the Lanier family of New York inaugurated a period of the church's primary use as a shrine to all Huguenot settlers of the New World, marked by marble plaques dating from the late-19th to the early-20th century. Relegated for several generations to a single service a year in French, descendants of original members came back in the 1980s and restored the church's regular membership with weekly services and programs and rehabilitated the building. The paint scheme with scored plaster walls, the restoration of the chandelier and light fixtures, and the regilding and painting of the tablets are the most tangible results of the interior restoration. The churchyard retains several large family vaults including that of the Manigault family, used 1729-1870, and 18th-century New England gravestones marking the burials of members of the Bocquet, Neufville, and other families.

File contains FOHG building histories and other narrative histories, including information on the Erben Organ; Church program from 3/24/1991; booklet entitled A Short History of the French Protestant Huguenot Church of Charleston, South Carolina, by Marguerite Couturier Steedman (2nd ed.); newspaper articles (including DYKYC); National Register Nomination Form.

Note, Buildings of Charleston lists the address of this building at 140 Church Street, although most other sources identify it as 136.
Subjects Historic buildings--South Carolina--Charleston
French Protestant Huguenot Church (Charleston, S.C.)
Church buildings
Search Terms Church Street
Churches/Synagogues/Houses of Worship
National Register of Historic Places
Physical Description 1 File Folder
Related Records Show Related Records...