Bethesda Presbyterian Church

502 Dekalb St., Camden, South Carolina


Bethesda Presbyterian Church


Photo from the Historic American Buildings Survey

View photos at Library of Congress


Street View 


Early 19th century church in South Carolina -- Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS SC-331)

Bethesda Presbyterian Church, constructed in 1822, possesses national significance as an example of the work of Robert Mills. One of only a few Mills churches remaining in the United States, Bethesda is distinctive both for the quality and type of its design and for the stage it represents in Mills’ career. Architecturally Bethesda is representative of a distinctive phase in Mills’ career. No longer a journeyman, but not yet the preeminent Federal architect designing the nation’s early monumental buildings, Mills displayed in Bethesda the work of a maturing architect strongly influenced by Jeffersonian classicism. Bethesda, with its neo-classical temple form, represents “an important stage in Mills’ creation of a distinctly American classical style. The south façade has a tetrastyle Doric portico and entablature. The north façade, while referred to by Mills as the rear of the building, is the current entrance to the church. It has a tristyle Tuscan portico with double scissor stairs that lead to the two gallery entrances. The steeple is located above the church’s north gable, directly above the interior balcony. According to Mills, “the interior is arranged so that the floor and pews rise as they recede from the pulpit, giving every advantage to the audience, both in seeing and hearing.” The De Kalb Monument, located in the churchyard, reflects Mills’ concept of classical style and represents one of his smaller memorial designs. The marble monument resting on a granite base was constructed in memory of Baron de Kalb, a German who became a major general in the Revolutionary War and who died at the Battle of Camden. The Marquis de Lafayette laid the cornerstone to the monument in 1825. Listed in the National Register February 4, 1985; Designated a National Historic Landmark February 4, 1985. - SCDAH

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on February 4, 1985
Reference number
Architectural style
Early Republic
Area of significance
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic functions
Religious structure; Monument/marker
Current functions
Religious structure; Monument/marker
Period of significance
Significant years
1822; 1937
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 1
Contributing objects: 1

Update Log 

  • September 17, 2014: Updated by Michael Miller: Added "Description" & "Street View" and Corrected "NRHP Status" to reflect it's status as a NHL.
  • September 17, 2014: New Street View added by Michael Miller