Pon Pon Chapel of Ease
Standing sentinel in the isolated woods of Colleton County, Pon Pon Chapel of Ease was once the center of a bustling thoroughfare. Located on what was once a busy stagecoach road, the ruins of this beautiful chapel are all that remains in the area. During the early days of American history, Parker’s Ferry Road connected Charleston and Savannah. President George Washington used this road during his 1791 Spring Tour. Rumor has it he even stopped to worship at the chapel.
Pon Pon Chapel was established during the Colonial Period in 1725 as the first Anglican church in the state. A brick chapel was built in 1754, to replace an earlier wooden structure. This chapel burned in 1801 and became known as Burnt Church. The structure was rebuilt in the early 1820s. The chapel was used lovingly until 1832 when, according to the National Register of Historic Places application, it was either burned or fell into disrepair. Nearby Jacksonboro was replaced by Walterboro as the county seat. As parishioners migrated to Walterboro, there was no need to rebuild. Hurricane Gracie came through the area in 1959 causing further destruction to the structure.
The founder of the Methodist Church, John Wesley preached two sermons from the pulpit of Pon Pon Chapel in 1737. Locals continued to use the churchyard for burials. Two congressmen and several other local leaders are buried here. The Colleton County Historical and Preservation Society acquired the ruins and four acres in 1970. The front facade of the chapel was repaired and stabilized in 1971, then admitted to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. A grant was awarded to repair the front facade of the chapel in 1975. These ruins stand as a reminder of the early establishment of the Anglican Church in the area.
Pon Pon’s façade has a central, arched entrance and matching windows on either side. Upper level round windows also grace the front. Large rods stabilize the façade from behind. If you look carefully, you will notice the Flemish Bond brickwork, characteristically constructed with alternating rows of headers and stretchers.
Pon Pon Chapel ruins can be found of Hwy 64 (Jacksonboro Road), just outside Jacksonboro at Burnt Church Crossroads. Look for the sign between Jacksonboro and Walterboro. Turn down the dirt road and proceed until you see power lines. The ruins are located just before the power line easement on the right. For more information on Walterboro and Colleton County sights to see, visit https://southcarolinalowcountry.com/walterboro-colleton-county/.