Mount Carmel is a community located in McCormick County near the border of South Carolina and Georgia. The area was first settled by Scots-Irish immigrants in the 1750s, followed by the French and Germans in the 1760s and 1770s, respectively. With the advent of nearby Willington Academy at the turn of the nineteenth century and the establishment of local cotton plantations, the population began to grow.
William Dorn discovered gold mines in present-day McCormick in 1852 and capitalized on them with slave labor. After the Civil War led to emancipation, the mines became significantly less profitable. Cyrus McCormick purchased the mines and surrounding land in 1871. Unable to revive the mines, he focused on developing a community instead, now known as McCormick. He also purchased railroad stock, galvanizing the establishment of a train line there and in neighboring villages such as Mount Carmel. Mount Carmel’s section of the Savannah Valley Railroad was completed in 1886, which spurred a period of prosperity.
After the tracks were laid, Mount Carmel saw the addition of five general stores, a pharmacy, a grocery store, two gins, and two blacksmith shops, among other businesses. Mount Carmel Presbyterian Church was organized during this time of growth, and this frame building was constructed around 1890 on land given by the Morrah family to house the congregation. Services were held in the weatherboard meeting house until the mid-1950s.
In 1975 the church grounds hosted a reenactment of the seizing of British-occupied Fort Charlotte by American troops in 1775. The Revolutionary War engagement took place around six miles southwest of this site.
The fort ruins are now submerged beneath Strom Thurmond Lake, built in 1954. Mount Carmel Presbyterian Church is not to be confused with another church in the area with a similar name, Mount Carmel ARP Church.
Mount Carmel Presbyterian Church is listed in the National Register as part of the Mount Carmel Historic District:
Mount Carmel is a small town that developed in the 1880s, contemporary with the development of the Savannah Valley Railroad. The community was a flourishing village by the turn of the century. The district is located in the heart of the town and contains a high concentration of buildings constructed during the town’s period of prosperity, between 1885 and 1920. Included in the district are residential, commercial, institutional, religious, and industrial buildings, located in an irregular patter adjacent to the railroad tracks.
The district maintains integrity as a turn-of-the-century community; of the fifty-one properties contained in the boundaries, forty contribute to the historic character of the district. The district includes a collection of buildings which represent a range of late nineteenth and early twentieth century vernacular architectural modes such as the single-pile central hall farmhouse, the meeting house form, and the bungalow. The few key buildings invoke some elements of high style, including Victorian, Queen Anne, and Classical features.
Mount Carmel Presbyterian Church – Interior