First Baptist Church of Columbia is the site of the Secession Convention on December 17, 1860. Though the congregation formed in 1809, the brick Roman Tuscan edifice was built in 1859. At the time, it was the largest structure in Columbia, making it the ideal location for the convention. The Ordinance of Secession was signed in South Carolina three days later in Charleston>.
The 1859 building of molded brick was painted brown some time around the turn of the twentieth century. The paint was removed in 1949 during a renovation, revealing a variety of brick colors from light tan to red. The sanctuary was enlarged a few years prior to that, in 1941.
The church has grown exponentially over the decades, and in 1992 members began worshiping in a new sanctuary adjacent to this one. The modern sanctuary seats up to 3,400 people and can be seen standing behind the old church in the top photo. A Family Life Center was added to the church complex in 1999. The 1859 sanctuary remains part of the church campus.
First Baptist Church of Columbia is listed in the National Register:
The First Baptist Church was the scene where the first southern state convention declared its separation from the United States of America. Delegates assembled here on December 17, 1860 and unanimously declared their intent that the State of South Carolina should secede from the Union. This act of separation, coming from a state of leading political prominence, carried an immediate momentum throughout the Gulf States and Georgia, inducing them to declare their own separation. Although the convention met for only one day at Columbia and signed the State’s Ordinance of Secession only after reassembling in Charleston, the intent of the State’s political leaders was clearly and publicly declared at First Baptist. Erected in 1859, the church building features a Roman Tuscan portico and Tuscan pilasters down the sides, all rendered in molded brick. Alterations to the building occurred in 1941 and 1949.