For residents of and visitors to Columbia, spring is synonymous with a profusion of color signaling the rebirth of the capital city after a winter filled with bare branches and subdued hues. Temperate weather and reawakening landscapes inspire folks to cycle, run, and walk throughout downtown and its surrounding neighborhoods. This weekend, as in generations past, many citizens and guests to Columbia will celebrate Easter services within historic places of worship.
Fortunately, downtown Columbia has many such sites whose architecture was intended to inspire followers and celebrate spirituality. Through the talents of artisans, stained glass, patinated wood, tile, brick, and metal have been united to form landmark sanctuaries within our community.
Trinity Cathedral, First Presbyterian, Washington Street United Methodist, historic Bethel AME church on Sumter Street, and Ebenezer Lutheran are but a handful of examples. Others include Zion Baptist, Ladson Presbyterian, and First Baptist, as well as Good Shepherd Episcopal.
Several downtown churches boast impressive spires that once dominated the city’s skyline before the advent of modern skyscrapers. Dotting some downtown churchyards are impressive old-growth trees, as well as scores of tombstones whose engravings and decorations convey the histories of parishioners and congregants. Further examples of historic churches stand in early suburbs that surround Columbia’s immediate downtown.
Collectively, churches have played, and continue to play, a key role in defining Columbia’s architectural heritage. As examples of inspired design and design intended to inspire, Colum- bia’s historic churches have served not only as a spiritual refuges for their respective members but also places of outreach and service to the greater community.
To learn more about historic churches and other historic houses of worship in Columbia or Richland County, or to tour the historic house museums under the stewardship of Historic Columbia, visit historiccolumbia.org.