Trinity Episcopal Church dates from 1842 with the construction of a small wooden building. In 1858, the growing and more affluent congregation decided to build a larger and finer structure.

Architect George Walker of Columbia, South Carolina, who had also worked on the state capitol building, found inspiration for his design in the magnificent Gothic cathedrals of France. This was quite appropriate since Abbeville was named by John de la Howe for his native home, Abbeville, France.  

The cornerstone was laid on June 27th, 1859, and the church was consecrated on November 4th, 1860. The nave is 43 feet wide and 81 feet long; walls are of solid handmade brick and the steeple soars over 120 feet tall. The foundation contains brick dust, an expensive addition, which assured the church building would remain steadfast for centuries. 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 Low Country.

Trinity holds a virtual “library” of rare 19th century American stained glass and has a been featured in numerous stained glass publications.

Spoiler Alert:

legend passed down for generations told that the Chancel Window was of English origin and ran the blockade in the Civil War. When the window arrived, it was discovered to be a window intended for a northern church (some said the Old North Church, but that church never had a stained-glass window). Trinity's members decided to keep and install the window, altering it to fit the existing space.   Historical research in 2016 disproved this legend and has shown instead that the window is actually much more valuable.

Experts now attribute the Chancel Window to the New York studio of William Gibson, considered the father of stained glass painting in America. Trinity represents only the 4th known location where Gibson's work still exists. The steeple bell was a gift of Colonel Jehu 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, one of only two left in existence, 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 to have it reassembled for use in regular worship services at Trinity.  

Among Trinity's more illustrious members and clergy were: Reverend William Porcher Dubose, founder of the University of the South School of Theology and one of the foremost theologians of the Episcopal Church, John A Calhoun, nephew of US Vice President John C Calhoun, Armistead Burt, member of the US House of Representatives and speaker Pro Tem in 1848 and General Samuel McGowan.  

As we move forward with the window restoration effort, we will need significant community financial support. If you would like to support this effort or become a member of Friends of Trinity Abbeville and receive our FREE newsletter about upcoming community events, click here. You can also follow us on Facebook at Friends of Trinity Abbeville.

“Trinity Abbeville is the heart of our community. Citizens of Abbeville don't need to be a member of the church to feel Trinity Abbeville is OUR church. Its photo is on the cover of our Tourism Map and the 125-foot-tall steeple is one of the first things you see when you drive into the town square. It is extremely important to the Heritage Tourism we are using to attract visitors. Having Trinity Abbeville’s steeple repaired, and the sanctuary reopened is vital to our community.” The honorable Santana Delano Freeman, former Mayor of Abbeville,

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“Trinity Abbeville is a living symbol of the history, culture, and religious life of the South Carolina backcountry. Constructed in 1859, it is the key element in the town’s skyline and an important and vital part of the history of South Carolina and the nation.” Walter Edgar, History Professor at the University of South Carolina and author of South Carolina: A History.

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Why Join Friends of Trinity

By becoming a member of Friends of Trinity Abbeville, you will be supporting the preservation and restoration of an important National Register of Historic Places site.

By joining Friends of Trinity, you will be showing your support for one of Abbeville’s most important treasures.

No matter what level you choose, you will have the satisfaction of knowing you are helping preserve a historic piece of Abbeville history for generations to come.

Join today and help us continue our mission of sharing the history and beauty of Trinity Abbeville with our community.

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