Bethlehem Baptist Church

Wall and Gilmore Sts., Barnwell, South Carolina

Historic church in Barnwell, SC


Bethlehem Baptist Church, Right Oblique

South Carolina Department of Archives and History

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Bethlehem Baptist Church is a vernacular interpretation of the Victorian ecclesiastical architecture of the last two decades of the nineteenth century. Built circa 1898 by members of the congregation, the eclectic structure features both Queen Anne elements and Gothic detail. Architectural features of note include the steep, cross gabled roof with boxed cornice and returns; the asymmetrical massing of the towers; the 6/6 Gothic center pointed windows; the auditorium plan; and the tongue and grooved deep coved ceiling of the interior. The cupola originally featured a steep, tent-roofed spire; however, it was removed and replaced by the present cupola during the 1940ís. Exemplary of the widespread growth of independent black churches, which occurred in the South during the post-Civil War era, Bethlehem Baptist Church has played an important part in the religious and educational life of the black community of Barnwell. The congregation formed in 1868 as an offshoot of the Barnwell Baptist Church located at the same site and the old building was sold to the new congregation. After the floor caved-in around 1898, the 1829 building was demolished and the present Bethlehem Baptist Church built in its place. The brick veneered church rectory is included within the nominated acreage. Listed in the National Register July 10, 1979.

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on July 10, 1979
Reference number
Architectural style
Other architectural type; Eclectic
Areas of significance
Ethnic Heritage - Black; Architecture; Religion
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic function
Religious structure
Current function
Religious structure
Period of significance
Significant years
1898; 1899
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 1
Non-contributing buildings: 1

Update Log 

  • August 15, 2014: Photo imported by Michael Miller
  • October 25, 2013: Updated by Michael Miller: Added "Description" & "Overview"