This simple church in Graniteville is one of the original buildings included in town founder William Gregg’s plan for the community. Built around Gregg’s cotton manufacturing company, Graniteville Mill, Graniteville would soon become the South’s first large-scale mill village. When the industrial visionary laid out his new town in 1846, he set aside lots for two churches – St. John Methodist and First Baptist of Graniteville.
Gregg stipulated that the architecture of the churches complement the other buildings planned for the area. Indeed, Charleston architect E.B. White designed St. John United Methodist Church in the Carpenter Gothic style shared by the mill houses and local school, Graniteville Academy. The village’s other church, First Baptist, burned in 1886. It was quickly rebuilt and has since been remodeled in a modern style.
The sanctuary of St. John, which was completed in 1848, has survived for over 165 years with little repair work needed – a testament to the design skills of White as well as its construction by builder W.G. Ruppell. Several additions have been built on the church property throughout the twentieth century to accommodate the ever-growing congregation.
An educational building was constructed next to the church in 1927, seen below. Despite the fact that the building was erected nearly 100 years after the church, the architectural integrity of the structure is in keeping with the style of the church building.
The two-story educational building is still used by the church for Sunday school and fellowship. A modern brick building, the BEssiw Pearl Williams Building, was also added to the church campus.
St. John United Methodist Church is listed in the National Register as part of the Graniteville Historic District:
The Graniteville Historic District consists of the Graniteville Canal, which dates to 1846; the original two and one-half story Graniteville Mill constructed of locally quarried granite and completed in 1849; twenty-six original workers’ houses in Early Gothic Revival style, most of whose exteriors are virtually unaltered; nine other units of early mill housing; the 1847 Graniteville Academy where operatives children were educated at company expense; and the Early Gothic Revival St. John’s Methodist Church, designed by Charleston architect E.B. White and completed in 1849. Most of these structures were either constructed by William Gregg or under his close supervision, and many still retain much of their original architectural vitality. While building the mill, Gregg supervised construction of a company town, thus bringing into existence the first typical southern mill village. By providing cheap housing, free schools, churches, and stores and by maintaining personal supervision over the morals and everyday lies of his operatives, Gregg established a pattern that would be emulated by scores of cotton mill owners throughout the region.
St. John Methodist Info
Address: 18 Gregg Street, Graniteville, SC 29829
GPS Coordinates: 33.567120,-81.804610
St. John Methodist Map
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