Towering above surrounding Charleston, the nearly 200-foot tall white steeple of St Michael’s signals the site of the city’s oldest church. Inside, visitors and parishioners are transported back to the colonial era: alcoves shine with Tiffany stained glass windows, the original 1768 organ still pipes tunes and creaky wooden pews have seated centuries of worshipers including notables George Washington and Robert E. Lee. The central chandelier once blazed with candles, but has since been retrofitted with bulbs. Otherwise little altered, the church has survived tornadoes, an earthquake and even civil war bombings. The pulpit still bears battle wounds suffered in the 1865 Siege of Charleston Harbor. A table in the main vestibule along the western wall details the building’s long and storied history.
Choral music still emanates from St Michael’s on Sundays, and, as a still-functioning Episcopal Church, it can be sometimes challenging to tour the inside. Still, the exterior is a highlight of many historic downtown tours. It's still possible to see the old colonial clock— though minute hands weren’t added until the mid-1800s—and tour the adjacent cemetery, the final resting place of, among several other notables, two signers of the US Constitution.
The church is located on the corner of Broad and Meeting Streets across from Washington Square in the heart of Charleston. The building is open Monday-Thursday from 9am-4pm, Fridays from 9am-3pm and Saturdays from 8:30am-noon unless otherwise noted. Midday prayer is held during the week shortly after noon and Sunday services are at 8, 9:30 and 10:30am as well as at 6pm.
Did You Know? In 1680, a small wooden building stood in where St. Michael’s now does – the current building was constructed between 1752 and 1761 to meet the needs of a growing community.