St. Mary Help of Christians Church

York St. and Park Ave., Aiken, South Carolina


St. Mary Help of Christians Church

Photo taken by Michael Miller in October 2018



Street View 


St. Mary Help of Christian Church complex is architecturally significant, illustrating two distinct phases of the Gothic Revival in America. The complex is a spatially and visually unified building group consisting of St. Claire’s Chapel, constructed in 1879 in the Gothic Revival Style to serve the Catholic community in Aiken; St. Mary Help of Christians Church, designed by McMurphy and Story and constructed in 1905 in the Gothic Revival Style to serve the needs of a growing congregation; and the rectory, constructed ca. 1930. Artistic distinction is evident in the bronze Gustave Dore' Madonna statue, located in the vestibule of St. Mary Help of Christians Church, and in the three painted glass windows in St. Claires Chapel, which were executed by Nicolas Lorin, a master of French art glass. St. Claire’s Chapel is a significant example of Gothic Revival in the Early English mode. The chapel, with its exposed construction and functional integrity and in its subordination of ornament except as the enrichment of the basic construction of the building, is representative of the Ecclesiological phase of the Gothic Revival, during which strict adherence to historical precedent of English Gothic building was demanded. The exposed brick buttresses on the exterior, the open scissors truss roof, and the original interior woodwork are noteworthy. The Church is representative of the later phases of Gothic Revival design when the harsh requirements of the Ecclesiologists were less influential. The biochromatic exterior of the church and the employment of Florentine arches in the windows and entrances, as well as the apse enframement with its stylized voussoirs, suggest an Italian Gothic influence. Listed in the National Register March 25, 1982. - SCDAH

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on March 25, 1982
Reference number
Architectural style
Other architectural type; Romantic Style
Areas of significance
Art; Architecture
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic functions
Work of art (sculpture, carving, rock art); Religious structure; Church related residence
Current functions
Religious structure; Church related residence
Periods of significance
1875-1899; 1925-1949
Significant years
1879; 1930
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 3
Contributing structures: 1

Update Log 

  • October 23, 2018: New photo from Michael Miller
  • August 15, 2014: Photo imported by Michael Miller
  • June 6, 2014: Updated by Michael Miller: Added "Description" & "Street View"
  • June 6, 2014: New Street View added by Michael Miller

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