Built in 1842, St. Thaddeus Episcopal Church is the oldest church structure in Aiken. Originally a simple frame building, the church underwent extensive modifications in 1926 to give it its signature yellow stucco and Greek Revival style. St. Thaddeus was the church home of many wealthy Northerners who began wintering in Aiken during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These seasonal residents comprised what is known as the the city’s Winter Colony. Financial support from this group enabled the renovation of the church to reflect its prosperous congregation.
At one point, only Confederate soldiers who fought during the Civil War‘s Battle of Aiken were granted burial rights in the churchyard. It remains an active church and is associated with Mead Hall Episcopal School, which was started by the church in the Winter Colony home of George Mead, Sr. In 1955 Mead donated his home to St. Thaddeus to be used as a school in honor of his son, George Mead, Jr., who was killed in World War II.
St. Thaddeus Episcopal Church is listed in the National Register:
The church was extensively remodeled in 1926 according to the design of Albert Simons of Charleston. Originally a simple frame, weatherboarded building, St. Thaddeus is now stuccoed and has Greek Revival proportions. The three-bay façade features a pedimented Doric portico that shelters the central, double-door entrance. The entrance features a transom and shelf architrave and is flanked by secondary entrances with transoms and similar architraves. The church has a gable roof surmounted by a one-stage, inset steeple with spire and cross. The nominated property includes the church cemetery.
Jack (John) McCraney says
(St. Thaddeus) The description gives the impression the building was originally a simple country church. This was not the case because of affluent Charlestonians who contributed to the original structure. The Greek portico masonry columns are original with the 1842-3 construction, as is the pediment and the base (with circular vents) of the tower. In the 1920s, the tower was completed with the top section and the spire.
Major changes were rounding of the windows, removal of side balconies, and extension of the chancel with semicircular apse (semicircular ceiling terminating with a half-dome end). In the 1960s, a 23-bell carillon was given to the church and placed in the lower section of the tower. [Details of this and other information about the architecture can be found in R. Conover Bartram’s comprehensive history of St. Thaddeus (1960s) and in a large pictorial history by Owen Sheetz and Robert McClaren (sp?) from the 1990s.]
SC Picture Project says
Thank you so much for this info, Jack! The pictorial book is by H. Addison McClearen and Silas Owen Sheetz. It is called St. Thaddeus of Aiken: A Church and Its City.