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Union Church of Port Royal

The Union Church of Port Royal is significant in vernacular church architecture as a rare and intact example from the Reconstruction era, and in social history as an institution that illustrates the changing social landscape of Port Royal, Beaufort District, and the South Carolina lowcountry during the Civil War, Reconstruction, and into the twentieth century. Conceived of in 1877 as the Free Church of Port Royal by local white residents desperate for a house of worship, and completed in 1878 following a subscription fundraising scheme that was interrupted by a devastating outbreak of yellow fever, the church represented the collective efforts of the rural Port Royal community to erect a church that could be shared by all white denominations in the village. Built with donated lumber and erected by local residents, the church’s design reflects the simplicity of local craftsmanship, the recurring architectural details of other local buildings from the period, and an awareness of national architectural styles. Union Church of Port Royal also serves as an emblem of the landmark Port Royal Experiment and the resultant social upheaval that characterized this part of South Carolina from 1861 to 1877, as well as the ongoing de facto segregation that was so prevalent in the South from 1877 until the 1960s. Listed in the National Register November 17, 2010.

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