Old Sheldon Church Ruins
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A short ways north of Beaufort are the poignantly desolate ruins of the once-magnificent Old Sheldon Church (Old Sheldon Church Rd. off U.S. 17 just past Gardens Corner, daily dawn–dusk). Set a couple of miles off the highway on a narrow road, the serene, oak-lined grounds containing this massive, empty edifice give little hint of the violence so intrinsic to its history.
One of the first Greek Revival structures in the United States, the house of worship held its first service in 1757 as Prince William’s Parish Church. The sanctuary was first burned by the British in 1779, mainly because of reports that the Patriots were using it to store gunpowder captured from a British ship.
After being rebuilt in 1826, the sanctuary survived until General Sherman’s arrival in 1865, whereupon Union troops razed it once more. Nothing remains now but these towering walls and columns, made of red brick instead of the tabby often seen in similar ruins on the coast.
It’s now owned by the nearby St. Helena’s Episcopal Church in Beaufort, which holds outdoor services here the second Sunday after Easter. In all, it’s an almost painfully compelling bit of history set amid stunning natural beauty, and well worth the short drive.
© Jim Morekis from Moon South Carolina, 4th Edition