Also called “Tabo Church,” this old clapboard building tucked away in the rural Berkeley County hamlet of Cordesville was built around 1835 on the grounds of Clermont Plantation. The sophisticated architecture stands out among most rural churches of this era, which typically were meeting house-style structures.
Most of what is known about this church is due to a 1932 notation made by Louisa Cheves Stoney in her copy of Dr. John B. Irving’s 1840 book, A Day on the Cooper River. In the book’s pages she writes, “Dr. Irving tells us that Clermont wast at that time the home of Augustus Taveau. His mother, Martha Carolina Swinton Taveau, had married first John Ball, Sr. She belonged to Edisto Island and was a strong Presbyterian; in the midst of Episcopalians, she built a church on Clermont to make sure that the gospel might be preached in the country. Known as Taveau Church, it is now used by negroes.”
After the death of Martha Taveau in 1847, an African-American congregation used the church for its worship services. Clermont Plantation became part of Mepkin Plantation (now Mepkin Abbey) sometime after the Mepkin property was purchased by J.W. Johnson in 1916.
When the Luce family bought Mepkin in 1936, they gave the building and its surrounding property to the congregation, called Taveau Methodist Church, who worshiped here until the 1970s. Today the building is owned by Cordesville Methodist Church and no longer related to Mepkin Abbey.
Taveau Church is listed in the National Register:
Taveau Church is an unusual example of early nineteenth century church architecture. It is a small clapboard Classical Revival structure on a low brick pier foundation and has a gable roof with boxed cornice. The front façade is located on the gable side of the roof and features a small pedimented portico supported by four slender wooden Doric columns. A wooden bell tower with a hipped roof rises at the front of the gable roof. The foundations and steps of the portico are brick, although the area between the brick has been filled with concrete block. Both side facades feature a central double-door entrance flanked by two windows on each side. These entrances also feature a 12-light double row transom. All windows are 16/16 with paneled shutters. Taveau Church was constructed ca. 1835 for Martha Caroline Swinton Taveau, on lands of the former Clermont Plantation. After her death in 1847, a black Methodist congregation used the church. In the 1930s Clermont Plantation became part of the larger Mepkin Plantation and the owners of Mepkin, the Luce family, donated the church to the Taveau Methodist Church congregation. A cemetery is included within the acreage of Taveau Church.
Taveau Church: Interior Images
Taveau Church: More Images
Robert Ball Jr, MD MPH FACP says
As Senior Warden of nearby Strawberry Chapel, and a Charleston Ball descendant, this poor little church has our attention, as it was founded by a Ball relative, and its balcony was donated by our Chapel after the 1886 Charleston earthquake. We wish we could contribute significantly to its restoration, but our Chapel has been vandalized horribly by locals, hence our resources are now scarce. We pray others will contribute to its renovation. Pax. Robert Ball MD