Kershaw, South Carolina was one of the wealthiest towns in the state in the mid 1800’s. It was originally a gathering place for the farmers in the area but was largely destroyed towards the end of the Civil War. Another rebuilding phase occurred in the early 1900’s and included a pair of churches shown here. I passed through last Sunday afternoon and was invited inside both churches so I was able to get a shot of the interiors.
Unity Baptist Church was organized in 1909 and is on East Sumter Street. The Gothic Revival church building was completed a year later and was the second black church in town. The interior of the church has many original features including the coved ceiling. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.
Interior, Unity Baptist Church
Clinton Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church, Kershaw South Carolina
The oldest African-American congregation in town is Clinton Chapel A.M.E. Zion. The church was named for a former slave who was an A.M.E. minister. The church below was built in 1909. Included as part of the Lancaster County entry, it’s also on the National Register.
I’ve stopped by a few churches in Jacksonville, Florida which I don’t have much information so I’ll bundle them together here. Most are African American churches built in a similar architectural style in the downtown area. The church above on Van Buren Street was built in 1914 and seems to be known as Little Rock Baptist Church, though the sign in front of the church shows “Solid Rock Missionary Baptist Church”.
St. Matthews Methodist Episcopal Church founded their church in 1871 and this building above was completed in 1903. The interior of the brick building was remodeled in 1945 and today is known as Greater Hill’s Temple in honor of a Bishop of their church.
Triumph Church on Franklin Street seems to have been built circa 1902.
Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in in the Brooklyn section of town and has been abandoned since 1999. It was built by a local architect James Hutchins in 1955, but has a similar style of the earlier churches above.
This tiny church is on Phillips Highway a few miles from downtown. It had an interesting look so I took a photo, but I have nothing indicating its age.
New Hope African Methodist Episcopal, Guyton, Georgia (Effingham County)
Guyton is a small town in Georgia (local Guyton history link), but there are several churches from approximately the same time period which are still active. Listed on the National Register, New Home AME Church (above) was built in 1885 and is located in an older black neighborhood in Guyton known as Sugar Hill. It formed, like many similar churches in the south, just after the Civil War. It’s a rectangular wood framed building with a gabled roof. A choir room was added in the rear during the 1920s.
Originally known as Antioch Christian Church when organized toward the end of the 19th century. The Pine Street church changed its name to Guyton Christian in 1900.
Guyton United Methodist Church is an antebellum building dating from before the Civil War (1848). It also served as an auxiliary hospital during the Civil War. A more complete history is described at the church website.
Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church in Gainesville, Florida celebrated its 150th anniversary last year. The church was founded by the newly freed slave community and originally had a wooden building. That building was replaced with a brick version in 1887, but was destroyed by fire in 1903. This brick Romanesque Revival building on NW 2nd Street above was later completed in 1906.
Southwest United Methodist was only organized in 1966, but they apparently weren’t the original owners of this church on SW Williston Road. So far no luck on finding who was and when it was completed.
Friendship Missionary Baptist Church is located about two blocks from Mount Pleasant on NW 2nd Street and originally spun off from another Baptist Church (Mount Moriah Baptist) in 1888. The first church was burned down in 1911 and a Romanesque Gothic Revival structure (above) was then built.
Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church is not far from the historical sites of St. Augustine, Florida. The church was established in 1929 and the marker in front of the church partially reads – “This spiritual and civic citadel was established in 1929 with Rev. R.H. Whittaker as spiritual leader, and Chairman of the Board of Deacons, D.P. Mims. This church, the gateway to New Augustine, experienced phenomenal growth under the
inspired leadership of Rev. J.A. Wright, beginning in 1955 — becoming a spiritual beacon of New Augustine and emerging leader and light of civic pride in The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.”
I made it to Taw Caw Missionary Baptist Church just before a spectacular sunset one evening. This South Carolina church was bought by former slaves after the opportunity to freely worship was available with emancipation. The building was formerly owned by a Baptist congregation who sold the land and the church in 1885 when they moved to a different location in Summerton, South Carolina. The building dates to 1859, though there has been some remodeling over the years, both to the interior and exterior. There’s also an adjacent cemetery on the southwestern side of the church.