Photo Essay: Church and Graveyards in Charleston, South Carolina

by Ekua on May 18, 2011 in captured on memory card,race/culture/identity,South Carolina

Church is obviously a significant part of life for many of Charleston’s residents. As I took a stroll around downtown on a Sunday afternoon, I came across Christian bookstores, several churches, and graveyards adjacent to churches:

I looked up at the steeple of this church and noticed the juxtaposition of shapes.

This church had really beautiful architectural details. Unfortunately, I can’t figure out what it’s called.

As the service ended, bells rang for several minutes as people filed out of the church.

St. Michael’s Church.

The St. Michael’s Church graveyard.

A few flowers and regularly cut grass surround headstones that have been there for 100+ years. On some of the headstones like the one in the foreground, almost all of the engraving has worn away.

An elaborate grave.

Detail on a headstone in the St. Michael’s Church graveyard.

Down the street from St. Michael’s, I peeked into the window of a Christian bookstore. It was Sunday, so like everything else around it, it was closed.

These daily devotions for sports fans of different teams were all written by the same author. Seems like a conflict of interest to me!

The Circular Congregational Church.

Progressive churches like this one and the Unitarian Church I saw earlier that morning were well attended.

The graveyard at the Circular Congregational Church.

A multilingual peace pole amongst the graves.

Headstones at the Circular Congregational Church and the steeple of another church in the distance.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Ana May 18, 2011 at 3:33 pm

And I thought I was the only one who likes to photograph churches and old graveyards! I find them strangely fascinating. I have to admit that I read the headstones and try to imagine their story. Thanks for this post.

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Ekua May 18, 2011 at 5:47 pm

No problem. It was an interesting walk because the church culture in SC felt distinctly different from anything I’ve seen here in the Bay Area. Also, if we have graveyards like that here, I have yet to see them. I know what you mean by reading the headstones and imagining individual’s stories. I did that when I came across the ones that were readable. It makes me feel like I’m going a little beyond the idea of history as events that were studied in school and think about the people who lived in those times.

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Odysseus May 19, 2011 at 1:06 am

Love all the angles captured on the second church photo! I used to wander around old graveyards, too. I liked to imagine the stories of the people buried there. (I wrote this and then just looked up at the previous comment to see someone else had written the same thing, and your comment following her echoed that. Who knew there were so many of us?)

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Ana May 19, 2011 at 6:10 am

Great minds think alike 🙂

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Sunee May 19, 2011 at 9:20 am

Oh, and here I thought if I wanted to look at pretty churches I’ll have to go to Europe 😉 It would be interesting to know what they look like inside – also elaborately decorated or just plain whitewashed walls?

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Ekua May 20, 2011 at 12:51 am

Seeing churches in Europe is really different from seeing churches in the U.S. South. In Europe, it’s much more about the history and the ornateness of the churches. In the South, you have the historical aspect, but it’s definitely much more of current cultural experience. I didn’t go inside any of the churches I saw so I have no idea what they looked like inside!

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NS May 21, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Graves have something eerie, yet attractive about them! Your pics are nice. I am sure the place was not eerie at all !

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Fly Girl May 26, 2011 at 9:39 am

I love Charleston but I’ve never explored it from this angle! This is a very extensive representation, the only one missing is a Gullah graveyard, which are always near water so that the souls can travel quickly back to Sierra Leone.

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Ekua May 27, 2011 at 2:11 pm

I wasn’t necessarily trying to explore it from this angle, but all the churches and graveyard definitely stood out when I explored the city. I highlighted a bit about the Gullah culture in my photo essay about a craft and farmers market that we came across in Charleston. If I was to visit Charleston again, the Gullah culture is at the top of my list!

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