Preservation Month Series | The Remarkable Story of Sheldon Church

A church more beautiful in ruins

Preservation Month Series | The Remarkable Story of Sheldon Church

Consider this question for starters: What building, in our entire country, might have been “the first conscious attempt in America to imitate a Greek temple?” Sheldon Church (formerly Prince William Parish Church) is your answer.

And how many buildings in our country have survived being burned during the Revolutionary War. Few, we can suppose, and Sheldon Church, many still believe, is one of them.

Land for Sheldon Church was donated by the Bull family from the original holdings of Edmund Bellinger, who was awarded the lands in 1698 by England's Lords Proprietors. The name Sheldon Church was used in honor of the Bull family whose Carolina plantation and ancestral home in Warwickshire, England, were both called Sheldon Hall. Its first service was in 1757.

Overlooked in South Carolina's history is the pivotal role played in the Revolutionary War. More battles were fought here—over one hundred—than in any other state. Sheldon Church, put to use as a political and military center by Continental troops, paid the price for its service when it was burned by General Augustine Prevost’s British troops in May 1779.

It was not until 1825 that the church was rebuilt from the remaining walls. It was once though, that on January 14, 1865, it was again burned, this time by General Sherman’s 15th Corps under General John Logan. But in recent times, it is now learned that Sheldon was not in fact burned by Sherman's troops in 1865. The church was standing after the Civil War, however, due to the lack of attendance, the church was dismantled by freedman. It was never rebuilt.

Sheldon Church, located in Beaufort County, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.