One of South Carolina’s most historic churches held a homecoming service earlier this month to celebrate an extensive renovation project that enabled it to formally reopen its doors after nearly a decade.
The Church of the Holy Cross, located in the Sumter County community of Stateburg, traces its history back to 1852, when it was built by slaves.
The Gothic Revival cruciform-design church features walls of yellow pise de terre – or rammed earth – and a high-pitched roof of red tile, and contains a rare organ and original carved walnut pews, according to a description of the Episcopalian house of worship on the National Register of Historic Places.
Using an ancient building technique, slaves “pummeled Georgia red clay into wooden forms to create monolithic walls, 18-inches thick,” according to The State newspaper.
By packing earth between wooden molds, tamping it down, and leaving it to dry, the earth became as hard as baked brick.