South Carolina Picture Project
South Carolina Picture Project

Circle Theatre — Barnwell, South Carolina

SC Picture Project  |  Barnwell County  |  Circle Theatre

Adopt A South Carolina Landmark
Circle Theatre

It is appropriate that the Circle Theater in Barnwell serves as a place where stories unfold on stage, as the building is a story in itself. Now the home of the Barnwell County Performing Arts Center, this theater resembles a church because it was originally Barnwell Presbyterian Church. Construction on the building began in 1840 at the current Barnwell Presbyterian Church’s Franklin Street address. It was completed in 1848.

Old Presbyterian church in Barnwell SC

Bill Fitzpatrick of Taylors © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

In 1865, near the end of the Civil War, Federal troops burned much of Barnwell, including the courthouse. From that year court was held in this building – then Barnwell Presbyterian Church – though for how long is unclear. Eventually worship services resumed, but by the 1960s, the congregation decided to build a bigger church. In 1967 the Barnwell County Historical Preservation Commission was created out of concern for saving this historic church, and the building was moved to its current Academy Street location. A new church was built in its place, and the Barnwell Performing Arts Center, home of the town’s Circle Theater amateur stage group, made this building its own in 1974.

This simple former church was once adorned with a bell tower that was lost to lightning in 1891. It is listed in the National Register:

(Barnwell First Presbyterian Church) The Old Presbyterian Church is significant for its architecture and as the town of Barnwell’s first Presbyterian Church, which was used as the Barnwell County Courthouse during Reconstruction. It is also one of the few remaining antebellum buildings in town which was almost entirely destroyed by Gen. Sherman’s troops. The church was organized in June of 1832 by the Reverend Dr. James Henley Thornwell, a noted Presbyterian clergyman and later president of South Carolina College.

The present church was built ca. 1848 of Greek Revival design with Gothic details. The pedimented gable roof is supported by four large square columns that rest on brick piers. Each window is crowned by a lancet arch with tracery of wood and glass. The church was apparently constructed by a local craftsman and has hand carved interior woodwork and a slave gallery.

Circle Theatre Info

Address: 325 Academy Street, Barnwell, SC 29812
GPS Coordinates: 33.241752,-81.361313

Circle Theatre Map

Please Share Your Thoughts!

Did you enjoy this page? Do you have any information we should add? Send us your comments below — we can't wait to hear from you!


Join Us on Facebook
Search for Landmarks


Abbeville ACE Basin Adams Run Aiken Allendale Anderson Awendaw Bamberg Banks Barns & Farms Barnwell Batesburg-Leesville Beaches Beaufort Beech Island Belton Bennettsville Bishopville Blackville Bluffton Bridges Bygone Landmarks Camden Carnegie Libraries Cayce Cemeteries Charleston Charleston Navy Base Cheraw Chester Chesterfield Churches Clemson Clinton Clio Colleges Columbia Conway Cordesville Courthouses Darlington Daufuskie Island Denmark Dillon Donalds Easley Edgefield Edisto Elloree Erhardt Fairfax Florence Folly Beach Forests and Nature Preserves Fort Mill Fountain Inn Gaffney Garden City Beach Georgetown Glenn Springs Graniteville Greeleyville Greenville Greenwood Greer Hamburg Hampton Hardeeville Hartsville Hemingway Hilton Head Historical Photos Historic Houses Honea Path Hopkins Hotels & Inns Huger Hunting Island Isle of Palms Jails James Island Jamestown Johns Island Johnsonville Johnston Kiawah Island Kingstree Lake City Lake Marion Lakes Lancaster Landrum Latta Laurens Lexington Libraries Lighthouses Little River Lowndesville Manning Marion McClellanville McCormick Military Mills Moncks Corner Mountains Mount Carmel Mount Pleasant Mullins Murrells Inlet Myrtle Beach National Register Newberry Ninety Six North Augusta North Charleston North Myrtle Beach Orangeburg Pacolet Parks Pawleys Island Pendleton Pickens Piers Pinopolis Plantations Pomaria Port Royal Post Offices Ravenel Restaurants Ridge Spring Ridgeway Rivers Roadside Oddities Robert Mills Rock Hill Rockville Rosenwald Schools Salters Saluda Santee Savannah River Site SC Artists SC Heroes of the Alamo Schools Seneca Shrimp Boats Society Hill Spartanburg Sports Springs St. George St. Helena Island St. Matthews Stateburg Stores Sullivan's Island Summerton Summerville Sumter Sunset Sunsets Synagogues Town Clocks Trains & Depots Trees Trenton Troy Turbeville Ulmer Union Wadmalaw Island Walhalla Walterboro Ware Shoals Waterfalls Water Towers Wedgefield West Columbia Westminster Winnsboro Woodruff Yemassee York