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Bethel Methodist Church
Photograph by Lissa D'Aquisto, courtesy of City of Charleston

The first Methodist congregation in Charleston purchased this parcel of land in 1795 and the Old Bethel United Methodist Church building was erected here in 1797. A schism between black and white members of the congregation developed in the 1830s. As a result the original church was moved to the western portion of the lot in 1852, to be used by the black Methodists. Shortly thereafter work was begun at the original site for this second Methodist Church for the white congregation.

Records from 1852 indicate that the anticipated cost for the church was $18,000. The building was constructed in 1853-1854 by local architect, Mr. Curtis, who came from a family of architects and builders. Bethel Methodist Church is an exceptional example of Greek Doric Temple architecture common to antebellum

Lithograph from "Charleston Illustrated," 1875
Photograph courtesy of Historic Charleston Foundation
churches. Even with an uncharacteristic steeply-pitched roof, the church is one of the best examples of Greek Doric temple architecture in the State. The steep pitch would have allowed rainwater to drain more quickly. The most prominent architectural feature is the massive hexastyle Doric portico, with simple pediment and entablature. Windows, chimneys, verandahs, and refined details, as well as the building's overall mass, materials, and craftsmanship are elegant and innovative. Bethel was the only Methodist church in Charleston which remained open during the Civil War, and it survived the earthquake of 1886 intact. Although there have been interior alterations, the exterior has been well-preserved.

Bethel Methodist Church is located at 57 Pitt St. It is open to the public 9:00am to 4:30pm, Monday-Thursday, and 9:00am to 2:00pm on Friday. Call 843-723-4587 for further information.

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