Remodeled and redesigned by Francis Lee in 1852, the Unitarian Church you see today took a perpendicular Gothic design inspired by churches in England such as King’s College Chapel, Cambridge. Today, the old building provides a beautiful space for worship and other events. The church frequently hosts the wildly popular Candlelight series. Candlelight invites guests to listen to takes on some of their favorite music while sitting surrounded by hundreds of candles.
Make your way to the historic church and discover its decorative organ pipes and fan tracery ceiling. If arriving by car, Queen Street parking garage and Majestic Square offer nearby parking and are free with a Church bulletin. Use the QR code printed on the church’s Order of Service for three hours of free parking.
Facts, Curiosities and Interesting Things about the Unitarian Church
Before becoming a church, the Unitarian Church functioned as a barracks for the Americans and later for the English during the revolutionary war. It wasn’t until repairs were made that the church was consecrated in 1787. For the following 25 years, it shared a ministry with the church on Meeting Street. Then in 1815, the first Unitarian Minister, the Reverend Anthony Forster, came on board.
2. Designing the churchyard
The American author Caroline Gilman designed the churchyard in 1831. Though the cemetery may seem disheveled today, its wild shrubs and trees maintain its charm. Unsurprisingly, the churchyard is supposed to be haunted and a lot of people believe the Unitarian Church’s cemetery provided the subject for one of Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous poems, “Annabel Lee.”
3. Devastation in 1886
In 1886, the church was shaken by more than faith. An earthquake resulted in the tower falling through the roof of the church, the need for the ornate ceiling to be reconstructed. Fortunately, the chancel window, painted glass, made using a German process unable to be done anymore, survived the earthquake.
Candlelight concerts at the Unitarian Church
Experience something truly extraordinary at the Unitarian Church thanks to talented musicians and the warm glow of candlelight. Attending a Candlelight performance means being reintroduced to some of the greatest music of all time, from timeless compositions to modern-day hits. Enjoy a tribute to the likes of Taylor Swift or a Halloween special while admiring striking architecture in Charleston.
What else can you do at the Unitarian Church?
Sunday services are held in the Sanctuary on 8 Archdale Street at 11:00 a.m. Visitors are invited to Gage Hall for coffee and conversation after service. Weather permitting, this lively gathering sometimes takes place outside. And if you’re feeling brave enough, you can go on a night tour of the Unitarian Church Cemetery.
You can keep an eye on the numerous events being organized at the church, including coffeehouse concerts and family circle.
While it’s hard to beat this church when it comes to finding the perfect setting for an intimate Candlelight concert, the enchanting performances are also taking place at other venues across Charleston. Don’t miss out on these memorable evenings out this season.