Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The French Huguenot Church in Charleston

Today I'm sharing a bit about the church we visited while in Charleston a few weeks ago.  We didn't attend the service there, but we were walking by snapping some photos, and I noticed the front doors were open.  We walked around to the steps and were met by two church members who greeted us and invited us to go into the church.  They said we were welcome to look around and also welcome to take pictures.

  This is the French Huguenot Church, located at the corner of Church and Queen Streets, in Charleston, South Carolina.  We photographed the exterior of this church when we were here in 2014, but we didn't go inside then.  The man and woman who greeted us turned out to be a mother and her son.  They were so nice -- very cordial and informative.  I could tell they were proud of their church.  As it turns out, this is the only French Huguenot Church in North America.

Isn't it beautiful?  It's built in the French Gothic style.  I love the ceiling and the Gothic, arched windows.

I've never seen a chandelier quite like this; I thought it looked perfect in this church.  It's elegant without being overly ornate.

You can read about the massacre of French Protestants (Huguenots) on St. Bartholomew's Day, August 24/25, 1572, Here and Here.  To escape further persecution by the Catholics in France, the Huguenots fled to various parts of Protestant Europe, as well as to the American colonies.

Inside this particular church is a plaque listing U.S. presidents of Huguenot descent, the first on the list being George Washington.  :)  In reading the Huguenot Society of America's website, I discovered that Paul Revere was also of Huguenot descent.  Paul's father, a goldsmith, was born Apollos Rivoire in Riocaud, France, in 1702.  His family sent him to the New World in 1715, where he became apprentice to John Coney, the early American silversmith and goldsmith.  After John Coney's death, Apollos set up his own shop and anglicized his name.  He first changed his name to Paul Rivoire, then later, Paul Revere, the same name he gave to his oldest son.  The son, Paul Revere, became a silversmith in Boston and a famous Patriot in the American Revolution.  All these years, I've heard about Paul Revere, but I never knew he was of French descent.  History is so fascinating (to me).  I hope you're not nodding off out there.  ;)

Okay, so more about this lovely church.

The first French Huguenot church was built at this location in 1687, and was destroyed by fire in 1796.  The replacement for the original building was completed in 1800.  The second church was then dismantled in 1844 in order to build the present Gothic Revival edifice.  When this third church building was completed in 1845, the church also purchased and installed a pipe organ built by Henry Erben and carved in the style and shape of a Gothic chapel.


In this picture, you can see the two ornate plaques on either side of the altar.  My husband took these interior shots, and I was curious what the plaques said.  I was able to use the zoom feature in Picasa to read them.

Above is the plaque to the left of the altar, and it bears the first five of the Ten Commandments.

This plaque to the right of the altar bears the last five commandments, as well as The Lord's Prayer and the Apostles' Creed.  There were several plaques like the smaller white one above throughout the sanctuary.  They were dedicated to various family members and benefactors of the church.  The smaller plaque is dedicated to two members of the Lanier family who gave generously to the church's restoration after the destructive earthquake of 1886.

The above plaque is dedicated to the memory of Elias Horry, ancestor of the Horrys of South Carolina.  Elias was born in France in 1664, and his father died a martyr of the French Protestant Faith.  There is a Horry County in South Carolina, and now I know how it came by its name.

Today, services here are no longer conducted in French, except for once a year.  The worshipers don't arrive in boats, as they once did when the church was known as "The Church of the Tides."  It seems that its spirit of fellowship is still alive and well, though, based on the welcoming demeanor of the mother and son who talked with us.  They were good ambassadors for the church and their faith.

Not surprisingly, the church is designated as a National Historic Landmark.

As I was leaving the church, the mother gave me this watercolor note card, done by a local artist.  I'll definitely get this framed at the first opportunity and hang it in our house as a reminder of our Charleston trip and this lovely church.

Thanks for hanging in there through this long post.  I hate to only post pictures when there is so much history to be shared about this amazing city.  I'm still going to post on the gardens at Boone Hall Plantation, as well as some more of the French Quarter, where we spent most of our time in Charleston.  Next time, more pictures and less talking.  ;)  I'll leave you with a preview for next time.

Thank you so much for visiting and reading House at Forest Manor.  Have a great week!



  1. What a beautiful church and history, too. That's great that the doors were open to you!

  2. Hey Denise, the last time we were in Charleston we went inside the church and looked around. I believe it was the minister who talked to us a bit--I think he and my husband had a common friend. They were getting ready for a wedding rehearsal so we ducked out just before it started but it was a wonderful, memorable experience and beautiful church as your photos show.

  3. Beautiful photos. The church's pink color is unique and its history so very interesting.

  4. What a history, one I need to read more of. Gorgeous church

  5. Thanks for taking me along on the visit to the church, Denise. I'm always happy to learn some history about new things from you and to see them through your lens. Hope you're having a good week!

  6. Amazing church, amazing heritage, and amazing history lesson, Denise. I learned a lot here today. I had always wondered about the name "Revere."



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