Church of the Cross

July 19, 1857 –

The congregation of cotton planters who had formed at the small village of Bluffton, near Hilton Head Island, advertised in the Charleston Courier in July 1854 for someone to design a church “of wood with brick foundations, and not to exceed the estimated cost of five thousand dollars.”

(Bluffton). Sited on a wooded bluff above a curve in the May River, the Episcopal Church of the Cross is a beautiful and serene lowcountry chapel. The congregation of cotton planters who had formed at the small village of Bluffton, near Hilton Head Island, advertised in the Charleston Courier in July 1854 for someone to design a church “of wood with brick foundations, and not to exceed the estimated cost of five thousand dollars.” They chose the architect Edward Brickell White, who had designed Charleston’s Huguenot Church and Grace Episcopal Church and was completing Trinity Church in Columbia. The “handsome cruciform Gothic building capable of holding five-to-six hundred people” was consecrated on July 19, 1857. It was built of cypress with a shingled cypress roof. Entered through an arched door under a trefoil window and flanking shuttered lancet windows, it opened to an interior with exposed pine beams, box pews, a slave gallery, pale pink plaster walls, and rose-tinted glass windows. White successfully adapted high style Gothic-revival motifs to a rural wooden church in a style that has become known as “Carpenter Gothic,” but that label does not adequately describe his achievement. The church is a small architectural gem; it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.

Ravenel, Beatrice St. Julian. Architects of Charleston. 1945. Reprint, Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1992.

Thomas, Albert Sidney. A Historical Account of the Protestant Episcopal Church in South Carolina, 1820–1957. Columbia, S.C.: R. L. Bryan, 1957.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Church of the Cross
  • Coverage July 19, 1857 –
  • Author
  • Keywords Episcopal Church of the Cross, Edward Brickell White, Gothic-revival motifs
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • URL
  • Access Date August 9, 2020
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update May 11, 2016
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