Church of the Cross in Bluffton

The Church of the Cross in Old Town Bluffton has been a part of the town’s landscape since 1857 when Bluffton was just a summer resort for the area and inland planters. The handsome cruciform Carpenter’s Gothic Revival building was designed by E. B. White.  Mullioned and fan-arched windows are framed by lattice shutters. The rose-colored glass was brought from England. Unfinished cypress timbers cover the structure that rests on a brock foundation.

Church of the Cross Bluffton SC
Image by Carmen Pinckney.

Bluffton was under Federal occupation between 1861 and 1865. While most of the town was burned, the Church of the Cross was spared. The congregation returned after the war, repairs were made, and services resumed in 1870. The church stood unaltered until the roof was replaced in 1892. A deadly hurricane came ashore in 1989 and caused much damage to the building, but repairs were made, and all was well by 1900. Repurposed lumber from repairs was used to make an altar, lectern, and prayer desk. An intimate chapel was created in the narthex that was easy to heat with a pot-bellied stove for the smaller winter congregation.

The Church of the Cross in Bluffton was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. As the congregation grew, members built the first rectory in 1986. Further growth in 1997 moved the narthex wall back to its original position. The balcony above was renovated and is used for the choir and English pipe organ that was installed in 1999.

The arched pine front doors lead into a sanctuary bathed in soft light that reflects from pink plaster walls. Two shuttered lancet windows flank the centrally located door. A tripartite lancet window with smaller trefoil-shaped windows on either side sits above the door. The arched-window window design continues along the sides of the church. Exposed beams of hard yellow pine are used in the sanctuary. The gallery’s carved wooden balustrades repeat the pointed arch seen on the exterior.

The Church of the Cross is located on a high bluff, overlooking the May River. It sits in a garden of live oaks and palmetto trees. The board and batten cypress exterior, open timbered interior ceiling is in keeping with the church’s scenic, rural setting. It is an iconic landmark of Old Town Bluffton, and a “must-see” destination while visiting the Lowcountry. In fact, the entire Calhoun Street and Old Town Bluffton area is full of beautiful sights.

For more information on other Bluffton attractions visit https://southcarolinalowcountry.com/bluffton-area/

Church of the Cross
110 Calhoun Street
Bluffton, SC

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