Historic Summerville is home to this picturesque chapel of many names, currently called St. Paul’s Reformed Episcopal Church as well as the Bishop Pengelley Memorial Chapel. Originally known as St. Barnabas, it was built in 1891 on the site where the old Dorchester County Hospital now sits.
St. Barnabas was a mission that was started in 1883 and operated a school, medical clinic, and church for underprivileged white and Native American children under the auspices of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. The land for St. Barnabas was donated by local businesswoman Catherine Springs, and the mission continued serving the community for two years after the Dorchester County Hospital was built on its site in 1937.
In 1942 Cummins Theological Seminary, a ministry school for students of the Reformed Episcopal denomination, moved into the vacant building once used as the Arthur B. Lee Hospital. Lee Hospital sat on the corner of North Main and West 4th North Streets (now the site of a bank) and served black patients. It was located next door to the St. Barnabas chapel, which then sat abandoned in the shadow of the Dorchester County Hospital, which served whites. In 1946 the seminary moved the chapel across the street to its campus, renaming it Bishop Pengelley Memorial Chapel.
The chapel and seminary remained on the former Lee Hospital site until 1981, when both moved to the present seminary and Dicocese of the Southeast location at 705 South Main Street, the old Pinewood School. Today the chapel is known as St. Paul’s Reformed Episcopal Church and holds weekly worship services. It is the sister church of St. Stephen’s Reformed Episcopal Church, also in Summerville.