History

Virtual Preservation Tour: Saint Lawrence Cemetery

Preservation-Society , April 20, 2020

While you’re stuck at home, we would like to share with you some of our favorite places in Charleston. Join the Preservation Society every week, as we share a virtual tour through the diverse burial grounds of the Charleston Cemetery Historic District!

The first Catholic congregation in the Carolinas and Georgia was organized in Charleston in 1789 as St. Mary’s Catholic Church. In 1851, Bishop Ignatius Aloysius Reynolds bought approximately eighteen acres of Magnolia Umbra Plantation for a burial ground to form the first cemetery founded aft er Magnolia within the bounds of the District. In 1880, the diocese expanded St. Lawrence Cemetery through the acquisition of a portion of the adjacent parade ground from a state militia unit known as the Board of Field Officers of the Fourth Brigade. In layout, St. Lawrence is atypical of the rural cemetery because its center road and divergent pathways are laid out in right angles rather than the winding paths of Magnolia or the soon-to-be-founded German-American Bethany Cemetery. While the symmetry is imperfect, the shape of the St. Lawrence parcel bears a certain resemblance to the spatial arrangement of a typical Catholic church, which is often based on the shape of the cross.