St. Luke and St. Paul’s “New” Oldest

IMG_2805With St. Michael’s and St.Philip’s congregations returning to the Anglican fold, the historic Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul is now the oldest Episcopal Church on the Charleston peninsula. Consecrated as St. Paul’s Churchin 1816 in the area known as Radcliffeborough, the structure was designed by architects James and John Gordon in Classic Revival style. The Gordons also designed the Second Presbyterian Church on Meeting Street, and the two buildings are very similar in their details and great size. Apparently steeples  for such massive structures were a problem in the Gordons’ design, and neither church has a full spire. Nevertheless, St. Paul’s had bells in its Gothic tower, which were melted down for cannon during the War Between the States.

Historically nicknamed “Planters’ Church” St. Paul’s was situated on a small bluff overlooking a section of the western peninsula that was mostly marshes and creeks well into the 19th century, and whose pleasant breezes attracted numerous planters to build stately homes in the area.

The congregation merged with St. Luke’s in 1949, and became the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul. !n 2001, eight new bells were installed in the tower which are now rung by hand in the method known as “change ringing” , in which ringers change the sequence of rings to change the octaves that the eight bell notes can create.

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