The Charleston Navy Yard overlooking the Cooper River in North Charleston began operations in 1903 and continued throughout the twentieth century, officially closing in 1996. The chapel that served navy personnel as well as local civilians, Eternal Father of the Sea, was built in 1942 during World War II. The war expanded the navy yard’s work force dramatically – from around 2,000 prior to the war to 25,948 in 1943. As a result, the chapel was expanded in 1944.
The photo above shows the Eternal Father of the Sea chapel after its restoration and relocation.
The non-denominational chapel held services for Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish sailors and their families. Because such a large number of American soldiers were deployed during the war, many weddings were officiated at the chapel, along with “Thanksgiving Services” when ships returned.
The old chapel deteriorated during the decades after the Charleston Navy Base closed.
The last military service was held here on September 3, 1995. During this service, a time capsule was opened that had been placed in the chapel’s corner stone. Inside the box were a Holy Bible, Prayer Book for Soldiers and Sailors, Army-Navy Service Book, Service Prayer Book, Army-Navy Hymnal, 41 pennies, and four dimes. The books had water damage, thought to be the result of Hurricane Hugo in 1989.
Taken from the side, this photograph shows the sanctuary during its restoration.
In 1998 a new congregation – God’s True Deliverance Church – made use of the sanctuary, remaining here until 2004. The building was then used as a performance venue for the North Charleston Arts Festival until extensive termite damage halted its use in 2005.
This post-restoration shot shows the chapel at its new location near the Historic Officers’ Quarters District.
In 2006 the City of North Charleston initiated plans to restore the building and the following year spent $143,890 on repairs. The city relocated the chapel about a mile from its original site on North Hobson Avenue some time in 2015 to make room for a railway. It now sits amid the former officers’ housing. Restoration continued following the chapel’s move, including the removal of original features such as doors, windows, and light fixtures for preservation during the process. Also, the chapel was enlarged to meet code requirements, and restrooms and dressing rooms were added for weddings, modernizing the historic building for future use. The results of the project can be seen in the above photo and at the top of the page.
This image captures the church as it appears at the head of a new shell lane.
More Pictures of Eternal Father of the Sea