Huguenot Church

Charleston, South Carolina | C.1844

Photo Credit: Jason Chan-Lentz

When the French Catholics turned on their Protestant counterparts in the 16th and 17th centuries, many Huguenots (French Protestants) decided it best to relocate to friendlier countries.  The first of many would arrive in Charleston in 1680 and build their first church just seven years later.  And it’s a good thing they did, because by the 1720s a flood of French refugees would also emigrate to the city, making almost a quarter of the city’s population practicing Huguenots. 

The location of the church would always remain the same, fittingly on the corner of Church and Queen street, but the current parish is the third design built in 1845. The site was partially chosen because it was close to the water, and many of their congregants lived up the Cooper River. This made for an interesting mass schedule, because instead of having a set service time, their liturgy was scheduled around the tides. 

Although the French refugees were acclimating into English society, they kept their services in French until 1828. A tradition that is still honored once every April with an all French spoken ceremony. 

So how did the little pink church get its pastel color? In 2013 the church was an off-white structure when restoration work was started. Church officials were curious if they could find the original color of the church. Through careful removal of paint layers conservators discovered that the original hue of the building was rosy pink. It made for an easy decision to return the church to its original color. And with this outstanding new shade, it makes the only independent Huguenot church in America a hard one to miss.

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