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Old St. Mary's Church is the third house of worship for the St. Mary Help of Christians Church parish, which is a Catholic congregation established in 1853. Built in 1905, it stands next to the second and smaller church built in 1880 named the Church of St. Claire of the Holy Cross (it also called St. Claire Chapel). The fourth church and current home of the parish was erected in 2015 and is located nearby on Fairfield Street. Old St. Mary's Church is a fine example of Gothic Revival architecture. It features a striking, 120-foot tall white spire topped with a cross, arched entryways, pointed arches, stone trim, and buttresses. Old St. Mary's was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 (St. Claire's Chapel was included in the listing).

Old St. Mary's Church was built in 1905 and served as the main parish church until the current one was built in 2015.

Cloud, Sky, Plant, Wheel

Built in 2015, St. Mary Help of Christians Church is the fourth church erected for the parish.

Cloud, Sky, Plant, Building

St. Mary Help of Christians Church parish was founded on June 29, 1853 by Bishop Ignatius A. Reynolds. However, it appears that the first church building, a small, wood-frame structure, was not constructed until 1867. A tornado destroyed it eleven years later. As noted above, the second church building was erected in 1880. A local wealthy resident named Celestine E. Eustis provided the funds and led the effort to build it. In the coming years, the Catholic community grew (and the population rose during the winter) and by 1903 it was apparent that a larger building was needed. Old St. Mary's was built as a result and was completed in the fall of 1905. The parish eventually outgrew Old St. Mary's and the new church was built in 2015.

"A Short History of St. Mary Help of Christians and the Aiken Missions." St. Mary Help of Christians Church. May 1953.

Lowe, Charles & Wells, John. "St. Mary Help of Christians Church." National Park Service - National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. March 25, 1982.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Both images by Bill Fitzpatrick, via Wikimedia Commons:,_South_Carolina)