Prince Frederick’s Chapel

Photo Aug 04, 10 09 21 AM


In the early 1830s the rice economy was prospering in the low country areas of South Carolina. The area of Georgetown, South Carolina, known today as Plantersville, boasted a thriving rice economy. With the influx of people working in the rice industry, the plantation owners saw the need for a church in the area. They chose to build near the Pee Dee river after 2.03 acres of land was given to Prince Frederick’s Parish by the Reverend Hugh Fraser. The first chapel, a wooden structure which still exists today (see figure 1), was built on this land in 1835. The small chapel was named Prince Frederick’s Chapel and served as the Episcopal church for the area plantations. By the 1850s the wooden chapel was too small to accommodate the growing congregation. A building committee was formed in 1857 to oversee the construction of a new church building. The architect for the building was Louis Barbot and the builders were Philip and Edward Gunn. According to the application for National Registry , Barbot designed the church using plans by architect Samuel Sloan (see figure 2) as a template. Sloan’s plan titled “A Village Church” plate 77 is featured in his plan book, The Model Architect, first published in 1851. The photographs collected in the archives of the church show that Barbot increased the size of the church from Sloan’s plan and did away with the basement. Barbot extended the front tower to create a narthex for the church entrance.

Construction officially began when the rector, Reverend Joseph Hunter, laid the cornerstone of the new church on November 17, 1859.  The construction of the new church was not yet complete when the Civil War began in 1861.  During the war the church construction was delayed from damage and from federal blockades along the coast. The supplies and furnishings for the church were ordered from Europe by the wealthy plantation owners were seized by the federal blockades and never reached the church. The construction of the church was completed in 1876 and consecrated the following year on March 25, 1877. The end of the Civil War brought changes to the economy of the area. The emancipation of slaves, the destruction of property, and the seizing of livestock and anything of value by soldiers all resulted in the death of the rice economy. Plantations no longer had slave labor to aid in rice production and had insufficient means to replace the losses in property.  As a result of the decline in the rice economy, parishioners of  Prince Frederick’s moved to more urban areas in search of work. The congregation declined in numbers and the health of the church suffered and it fell into disrepair. In 1966, the church building was considered unsafe and the main body was put to rest when it was torn down. Today only the front entrance to the church still exists. It is comprised of the front tower entrance and front wall. The ruins were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

image2Photo Aug 04, 10 09 33 AM (1)

3D Recreation:

The Gothic Revival architecture is prominent in what is left of the structure of Prince Frederick’s Chapel and hints to what was once a grand place to worship. The archives of the church are stored at Prince George’s Episcopal church located in downtown Georgetown, South Carolina. The archives consist of items in the top drawer of a file cabinet and include vestry minutes, newspaper articles, and photographs. The photographs are very few but show the whole building of Prince Frederick’s before it was torn down and aided in providing the information needed to build a 3D model. In creating a 3D model of the church, the goal is to accurately represent the building as it was when it was flourishing. The first goal is that the historic structure from the past is brought to life so that the architecture can be fully appreciated and that the structure can be viewed as it was built in three dimensions. The second goal is to use the model to create information that cannot be found in the few photographs that exist. The third goal is to create a model that gives an accurate as possible experience in interacting with the past.

A floor plan of the church was created using Softplan Architectural software.The information for the floor plan was taken from the original plan by Samuel Sloan, “The Village Church” as well as from photographs of the structure. The 3D model was created using SketchUp.  The floor plan was imported and used to set the scale and walls of the building. The detail of the interior and exterior were taken from photographs of the structure.The rendering program Lumion was used to create color renderings and a fly by video of the chapel. The model gives the viewer the unique experience of seeing Prince Frederick’s Chapel in complete form as it once was when it was first built. The model also serves as a venue for the church to live on into the future and bring the history of the structure and the area to future generations.