The overall composition lacks the intricate stone sculptural details characteristic of the Gothic architecture of medieval Europe, but blends harmoniously with the color palette and visual textures of Charleston’s built environment.
(Charleston). Located at 140 Church Street, the French Protestant (Huguenot) Church was the first Gothic Revival ecclesiastical building erected in Charleston, representing a shift away from the conservative styling that had traditionally characterized the city’s religious buildings. Construction began in 1844 and was completed the following year. It was designed by Edward B. White and is built of brick finished in stucco. The overall composition lacks the intricate stone sculptural details characteristic of the Gothic architecture of medieval Europe, but blends harmoniously with the color palette and visual textures of Charleston’s built environment. The gable form is ornamented with buttresses topped with cast-iron pinnacles, lancet windows, and a crenellated parapet. On the interior, the entry vestibule is separated from the nave by an ingeniously designed screen of sliding wood panels set in pointed arch frames. The vaulted plaster ceiling is embellished with rosette bosses. Liturgical tablets and marble memorial plaques dedicated to Huguenot families line the walls.
The church was damaged in 1864 during the siege of Charleston and nearly destroyed during the 1886 earthquake. Following a restoration, it became a shrine to all Huguenot settlers of the New World and received only limited use for most of the twentieth century. Descendants of the original members returned to the church in the early 1980s, rehabilitated the building, and instituted a regular schedule of weekly services and programs. The building was designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1973.
Lane, Mills. Architecture of the Old South: South Carolina. Savannah, Ga.: Beehive, 1984.
Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1997.
Severens, Kenneth. Charleston Antebellum Architecture and Civic Destiny. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1988.