A log cabin constructed near this site served as St. Paul’s first house of worship. Built soon after the church’s organization, it burned roughly 25 years later, in 1786. A frame church replaced the log cabin, and a larger frame church followed that one in 1830. St. Paul’s congregation worshiped in this second frame church for over a century.
A churchyard was established in 1865 and holds the remains of the church’s longest-serving pastor, the Reverend J. A. Sligh, a Confederate veteran who was elected to South Carolina’s statehouse in 1884 and senate in 1892. The Reverend Sligh attended the Lutheran Seminary in Lexington but resigned, along with his both of his classmates, to join the Confederacy. He was the only student to survive as he was in bad health and returned home after just a year. Although he did not complete seminary, he was ordained and led St. Paul Lutheran for 47 years, from 1865 through 1912. The Reverend Sligh, who in addition to being a pastor and politician was also a successful farmer and merchant, served as president of the Board of Trustees for Newberry College.
The congregation once again outgrew its building in the twentieth century, and a new church was built to accommodate an expanding membership in 1938. The Gothic-Revival sanctuary was constructed of local blue granite and designed by Willie Koon, brother of the Reverend S.P. Koon, who served St. Paul Lutheran Church from 1916 until 1934.
Sadly, the stately sanctuary suffered the same fate as the original church when it burned in the early morning of January 10, 2013. One parishioner who witnessed the fire claims to have heard the church bell ringing as the steeple toppled from its base.
The congregation was able to salvage much of the sanctuary, as seen below, though its education building was permanently destroyed. While the church was rebuilt, St. Paul’s congregation gathered in a vacant school nearby. The cause of the fire remains unknown.
UPDATES: As of August of 2015, the church’s restoration was nearly complete. The church was able to preserve the walls and facade of the church while constructing a new interior and rear of the sanctuary as well as a new education building. As of August of 2018, the church is again fully functional and actively serves its congregation. Many thanks to both Mr. Bill Segars and Mr. Jim Jenkins for documenting this church’s journey. Their images are invaluable.
St. Paul Before and After the 2013 Fire
The first two photos below show St. Paul as it appeared prior to the devastating fire of 2013.
The next photo shows the interior of the church in 2014, after the fire but before restoration. It was taken from the vantage of the front steps.
These three images give, for lack of a better word, a “window” into the damage done to St. Paul by the 2013 fire. The first shows a single window as it appeared in 2007, when it still featured the original 1934 design and construction.
The next image shows the same window in 2013, soon after it had been damaged by the fire.
The last picture shows the replacement window in 2018 after the church’s restoration.