Restoring Glory to Trinity

A Place in Peril

Trinity’s iconic 125-foot steeple, the tallest structure in town, is in danger of future collapse due to the growing rot in the wooden supports imbedded in the masonry walls causing it to lean significantly. The originally designed internal gutter system is failing allowing water intrusion into the sanctuary destroying the interior plaster. The exterior Portland cement coating installed in the 1970s is peeling off taking the original plaster and mortar with it.  For an economically challenged town of 5,000, whose businesses depend heavily on heritage tourism, the loss of Trinity as a popular visitor attraction will be catastrophic. For safety reasons, Trinity is now shuttered and closed until the steeple can be stabilized.

The Restoration Plan

Preservation South Carolina is working with Friends of Trinity Abbeville in-order to raise the funds necessary to embark on a five-year, $3 million restoration. Meadors, Inc., of Charleston, SC, has completed a comprehensive conditions assessment and outlined a phased restoration plan. Meadors, winner of multiple preservation awards from the Preservation South Carolina, The Preservation Society, and the City of Charleston, will develop the scope of work and specifications for the restoration. Help support the restoration of this historic treasure which, as a top tourist attraction, contributes significantly to the economy of Abbeville.

Donate To Trinity Episcopal of Abbeville Restoration Fund!

Help Save a Piece of Sacred History – When you donate to Preservation SC's Friends of Trinity Fund you will help rehabilitate, stabilize, secure and restore the church structure in order to give it back to the congregation and the surrounding community.

Prefer to Mail Your Donation? Make checks payable to Preservation South Carolina. Please include for "Sacred Spaces Restore Trinity Fund".

PO Box 448
Abbeville, SC 29620

About Abbeville’s Trinity Episcopal

In 1858, the growing and more affluent congregation of Trinity Episcopal decided to replace their original small wooden church and build a larger and finer structure. Architect George Walker of Charleston, who had also worked on the state capitol building, found inspiration for his design in the medieval gothic churches  of Europe.

The cornerstone was laid on June 27, 1859 and the church was consecrated on November 4, 1860. The final cost of the building, including the organ and bell, was $15,665 which was funded by church members along with liberal donations from friends in Charleston and the lowcountry.

Trinity holds a virtual “library” of rare 19th-century American stained glass, including at least eight windows dating to the church’s erection in 1859/60. Experts attribute the chancel and the “Suffer little Children”  window to the New York studio of William Gibson, considered the “father of stained glass painting in America.”

Gibson was also the brother of John and George Gibson who provided stained glass for the U.S. Capitol building. Stylistic similarities point to Gibson’s studio as the source also of the “Suffer Little Children” window and the medallions with symbols of faith adorning the tops of the church’s other stained glass windows. Trinity represents only the fourth location in the world where Gibson’s work still exists as well as one of the largest collection of William Gibson stained glass yet discovered.

The Epiphany window, Trinity’s only 20th-century stained glass, was installed in 1941, and was crafted by the famed J & R Lamb Studios.

The steeple bell was the gift of Col. J. Foster Marshall of Abbeville, who was killed at the Second Battle of Manassas in 1862. During the war, a Confederate officer requested that the bell be melted down for manufacture of a cannon, but fortunately the request was never pursued.

The rare John Baker “tracker” organ was one of the first organs in Abbeville County and was still in use until 2006 when it was dismantled for renovations. The organ is still housed at the church with hopes soon to have the organ reassembled for use in regular worship services at Trinity.

Among Trinity’s more illustrious members and clergy were:

Rev. William Porcher DuBose, founder of the University of the South’s School ofTheology one of the foremost theologians of the Episcopal Church

John A. Calhoun, nephew of U.S. Vice President John C. Calhoun

Armistead Burt, former Speaker of the House in the U.S. CongressThe small congregation currently worships in the nearby Parish House. Interested in joining the worship services and learning more about the local congregation? Visit their website here.

Restore Trinity is a Project of Preservation South Carolina