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.
Don Boudreaux of Café Hayek takes time to highlight an interesting piece from David Freeman Hawke’s 1988 book Everyday Life in Early America; relating, in this instance, to 17th century life in the Palmetto State:
“Peter H. Wood found little discrimination in early South Carolina. ‘Common hardships and the continuing shortage of hands,’ he writes [in 1974], ‘put the different races, as well as separate sexes, upon a more equal footing than they would see in subsequent generations.’ Many scholars now conclude that discrimination set in only during the last quarter of the century when a ‘series of court decisions and statutes began closing the gates of freedom along racial lines,’ changes that finally became codified in Virginia’s slave code of 1705.”
Admittedly not having read the book, a question is raised by the above paragraph:
South Carolina was officially settled by the English in 1670, so are we simply talking about a five-year period before “discrimination set in (1670-1675)?”