Holy Cross Episcopal Church

Also known as: Church of the Holy Cross
SC 261, Stateburg, South Carolina


Church of the Holy Cross

Photo from the Historic American Buildings Survey

View photos at Library of Congress


Street View 


The Church of the Holy Cross is an extremely unusual mid-19th century rammed earth structure. Built in a simple but highly refined Gothic Revival style, it was designed on the model of an English country parish church by Edward C. Jones, a prominent architect from Charleston, who designed many buildings throughout the state. Though not designed by Jones, the rammed earth dependencies and portions of the Borough House (HABS SC-362), located 0.2 miles northwest of the church, might be said to form with the church a complex of rammed earth structures unique to the state if not the nation. This church was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1974. -- Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS SC-13-14)

Built in 1850, Holy Cross is of Gothic Revival design and is constructed of yellow pise de terre (rammed earth). Walls constructed of pise de terre (minimum depth of 13 inches) are almost impervious to earthquakes. Edward C. Jones of Charleston, designer of Holy Cross, was one of the best known South Carolina architects of the antebellum era. The cruciform Holy Cross is considered one of Jonesís most unusual designs. It resembles an Old World Parish Church. The high-pitched roof is of red tile. The interior features Bohemian stained glass windows designed by Violett de Duc and a rare Henry Irwin organ. Holy Cross is significant in that it, along with various other structures in Stateburg, comprises the largest complex of pise de terre buildings in the United States. Buried in the graveyard of Holy Cross is Joel R. Poinsett, a U.S. Congressman, Minister to Mexico, Secretary of War, and first president of the forerunner of the Smithsonian Institution, who is best remembered for bringing the poinsettia flower to this country from Mexico. Listed in the National Register November 7, 1973; Designated a National Historic Landmark November 7, 1973. - SCDAH

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on November 7, 1973
Reference number
Area of significance
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic function
Religious structure
Current function
Religious structure
Period of significance
Significant year

Update Log 

  • October 23, 2014: Updated by Michael Miller: Added "Description" & "Street View", Corrected "GPS Coordinates" and "NRHP Listing" to reflect its status as a National Historic Landmark
  • October 23, 2014: New Street View added by Michael Miller