Founded in 1866, Trinity United Methodist Church was the second organized black church in Orangeburg.

Trinity United Methodist Church was the second organized black church in Orangeburg and is part of civil rights history.

It was founded at Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church in 1866 by the Rev. T. Willard Lewis, presiding Elder, a white man and the Rev. Thomas Phillips, a black man. Lewis is credited with spearheading the organizing and birth of Claflin University in 1869.

The original building was located on the current Memorial Plaza. Now located on Boulevard Street, construction on the current structure was begun in 1928 but was not finished until 1944 due to the extreme economic hardship of the Great Depression.

Civil rights meetings and rallies were held during the 1940s-1960s, with local, state and prominent national leaders including Roy Wilkins, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Thurgood Marshall.

The building was designed by W.W. Wilkins, a South Carolina State College faculty member. Wilkins never held an architect’s license but designed buildings under the supervision of Miller F. Whittaker.

The brick Late Gothic Revival-style church building is cruciform in plan and is set upon a raised basement with beveled cast stone water table. The church’s main block rises two stories and features a large Tudor arched, stained glass window with molded cast stone surround, wall buttresses, a centered three-part louvered vent and parapet gable with cast stone coping.

The interior has a vaulted ceiling with exposed beams and a double-aisled nave flanked by wings accesses by a triple Gothic arched opening.

Trinity was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.

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