South Carolina Department of Archives and History
National Register Properties in South Carolina

Saint Michael's Episcopal Church, Charleston County (80 Meeting St., Charleston)
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Left Oblique Spire Detail Interior

St. Michael’s Church graphically illustrates the great increase in wealth and power in the Southern American colonies by the middle of the eighteenth century. Although possibly designed by an unknown architect and built by Samuel Cardy between 1752 and 1761, St. Michael’s shows a keen awareness of its architectural prototype by the English architect, James Gibbs’ Saint Martin-in-the-Fields (1726). The two-story structure of Saint Michael’s is of brick, stuccoed over, and radiating its brilliant white paint skin in the sub-tropical Carolina sun. The classical portico fills the Meeting Street front, and together with the steeple, dominates the whole exterior. It is a giant two-story portico with Tuscan columns, the first American colonial church to have the giant portico. The columns are of stuccoed pie shaped brick, the roof of slate, with a slight outward bend near the eaves, and the roof of the steeple of cypress sheathed in copper. The balustrade at the arcade level of the steeple was carved by one of Charleston’s foremost colonial woodworkers, Thomas Elfe. The two-story seating arrangement of the interior is articulated at the exterior, by the rows of round arched windows. Each window is surrounded by the Renaissance rustication that came to be known in England as the Gibbs surround, in France as Serlions. Pairs of windows are visually separated from others by a two-story pilaster, supporting the undecorated entablature. Listed in the National Register October 15, 1966; Designated a National Historic Landmark October 9, 1960.

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