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A look at some of Columbia’s historic steeples

Columbia’s steeples offer a sense of place as you look at the skyline or when you need to figure out what block you’re on. Even more, these churches hold Columbia’s history in their walls.

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Columbia’s churches help tell the history of the city. | Photo by COLAtoday

Columbia’s churches are key pieces of the Soda City’s history, a few of which date back to our city’s earliest days.

Inspired by this issue of Sandlapper magazine and the sketches of Historic Churches by local artist Blue Sky (then known as Warren Johnson), we circled back to share how they appear today. With so many local churches steeped in rich history, let us know which to highlight next.

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This congregation first met in the State House and on the USC Horseshoe. | Photo by COLAtoday

First Presbyterian Church

  • Steeple style: English gothic spire
  • Organized: 1795
  • Constructed: 1813 + 1853

Before the First Presbyterian congregation moved into the current location, they met at the State House and in the chapel on the horseshoe. Then known as “First Presbyterian Church of the Town of Columbia,” this church’s spire has been through a lot.
Although it survived Sherman’s march, its 180-ft spire was destroyed by an 1875 hurricane and then rebuilt in 1888. After a 1910 fire, the steeple was rebuilt with an additional eight feet in height.

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Located on the corner of Gervais and Sumter Streets, this historic church draws the eyes of passersby. | Photo by COLAtoday

Trinity Episcopal Church

  • Steeple style: Gothic
  • Organized: 1813
  • Constructed: 1840

Located across the street from the State House, this has become one of the most recognizable churches in the Capital City. The church has its digital archives collection available through the SCDL (South Carolina Digital Library), allowing everyone to explore its past. Some of our state’s most recognizable names, including six governors and Revolutionary War heroes, are buried under the oaks and magnolia trees outside.

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This present building was completed in 1875. | Photo by COLAtoday

Washington Street Methodist Church

  • Steeple style: Gothic revival
  • Organized: 1803
  • Constructed: 1831 + 1866 + 1875

Organized almost exactly 220 years ago today, this historic church was burned during Sherman’s march through Columbia in 1865. A sanctuary was temporarily constructed from salvaged brick after the fire, and the current building was finished in 1875. Fun fact: The boxwood plants in the courtyard are cuttings from the original stock of plants from George Washington’s Mount Vernon home.

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