Circular Congregational Church
Charleston, SC 29401
Monday - Friday: 8:30a to 12:00p
The grounds of the church are open to the public during daylight hours 7 days a week.
Tours: When there is a tour guide on duty.
The Circular Congregational Church is an example of the adaptation of the Romanesque style. The Circular Congregational Church is one of the oldest continuously worshiping congregations in the South. This church was founded around 1681.
In 1804 the church was designed as a Pantheon-type building 88 feet in diameter with seven great doors and 26 windows. On its main floor and in the gallery it was said to accommodate 2,000 worshippers! The first major domed building in North America, it was described by one observer in 1818 as "the most extraordinary building in the United States." Many people made fun of the fact that the church lacked a steeple. Therefore, the laughter stopped in 1838 when a New England-style steeple was installed that towered 182 feet above Meeting Street.
The present building is the third structure to be built on this site, and was constructed circa 1892. In spite of its name, the plan of the church is more complex than circular; shaped like a cloverleaf with three semi-circular parts and one rectangular.
The graveyard is the city's oldest burial grounds with monuments dating from 1695. A vast circular hall was built in 1804 but burned in 1861. Bricks from "Old Circular" were used in building the present sanctuary, completed in 1892.