Located just south of Hilton Head on Daufuskie Island, the First Union African Baptist Church dates back to 1881 and is the oldest building on the island. The church was built on the grounds of Mary Field Plantation, a former cotton plantation owned by John Stoddard.
In the early 1880s, Stoddard divided the plantation into separate lots and sold 12 acres to freed slaves for the purpose of building a church and cemetery. The first church was constructed in 1881 and served the congregation until 1884, when it was destroyed by a fire. The current structure was completed in 1885 and continues to hold regular services.
The church is included in the Daufuskie Island Historic District:
Daufuskie Island Historic District includes the geographic entirety of this South Carolina sea island. Accessible only by boat, Daufuskie contains 5,200 acres of mostly high dry land. The district’s character is defined by eighteen properties of particular historic and/or architectural note, and fifty-six contributing sites or structures. Wooded tracts account for another 167 contributing properties. Most of the buildings consist of folk housing, which is concentrated in two building complexes, both on the island’s western side. They were constructed from 1890-1930, but reflect a much earlier building technology. They are significant architecturally as a survival form. The buildings also include educational, religious, and public buildings which serve the whole population. The design of Daufuskie’s two lighthouses has architectural significance in its structural combination of a functioning lighthouse with living quarters. Other areas of significance are historical in nature. Military engagements of note during the Yemassee and Revolutionary Wars took place on Daufuskie. In addition, buildings, sites, and structures represent Daufuskie’s antebellum plantation society based on the cultivation of long staple cotton as well as the history of the island in the early twentieth century when life revolved around the oyster industry, logging, and truck farming operations. Daufuskie’s cultural resources illustrate a three-century long history (ca. 1700-1930) that has evolved with a minimum of outside influence. Listed in the National Register June 2, 1982.