Details from Charleston, SC:
Two bright red buildings stand out among miles of soggy swamp that lines Ritter Road in Colleton County.
They’re a sure sign you’ve made it to Catholic Hill, a small settlement about 40 miles southwest of Charleston.
The buildings — a steepled church and an old school house – belong to Saint James the Greater Catholic Mission. They’ve stood the test of time, but black spots and wear on their red cedar-shake show they’re in need of some care, as well.
Inside the old school house, the staircase that once stood is gone and scaffolding sits along the walls. Pine wood used to line the floor. But now it, too, is gone and its disappearance has shaken the very core of the church.
A thief or thieves stole the heap of wood that had been salvaged from that old school house floor as part of a long-awaited renovation. For the congregation, the loss is as deep-rooted as their history.
“The freed slaves who built that school house, their sweat and their blood is in that wood. The members of the church are descendants of those slaves,” Father Jeffrey Kendall, the church’s pastor, said. “It has such tremendous meaning for us. That is why it’s so heartbreaking for us.”
Read more, including the remarkable history behind the church, here.
Photo: Casey Toth/ Post and Courier