See Lancaster SC unveils 2012 Christmas ornament

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Design features Olde Presbyterian Church window

By Jesef Williams

The sounds of Susan Vinson Sherlock’s dulcimer complemented the occasion well.


Sherlock played songs that captured the feel of the 1800s – the period used to draw inspiration for this year’s See Lancaster SC Christmas ornament.

Visitors stopped by the Cultural Arts Center at the Olde Lancaster Presbyterian Church on Tuesday, Nov. 13, to see the unveiling of the 2012 ornament. Fittingly, it portrays one of the eight stained-glass windows from the West Gay Street church, which was built in the 1800s.

The church has undergone renovations, which led to its reopening over the summer as a cultural center. The space is able to be rented for various functions.

“With the reopening of the church, that seemed to be the natural thing – to honor this church,” said See Lancaster SC’s Cherry Doster about why the colorful stained windows were chosen this year.

As the ornaments sat on a table for viewing and purchase, Sherlock played tunes on her dulcimer – drawing small crowds of listeners throughout the evening.

Suzan Courtney’s focus, though, appeared to be on the shiny black ornament.

“I think it’s just gorgeous,” Courtney said. “To put this on your Christmas tree will be really nice.”

Charlie Bundy said he found it most appropriate to depict the church this year since it’s been reopened following major renovations. He didn’t waste any time buying some, which may turn into holiday gifts for some lucky recipients.

“I’ve got a bag full of them,” he said. “I couldn't get just one.” 

This year's Christmas ornament is being sold for $8 at various locations in the county including the Lancaster County Welcome Center (the historic courthouse).

Previous editions are available for $6. 

For more information, contact Doster at (803) 289-1492 or cdoster@lancastercitysc.com.

The church’s history

The Gay Street land was deeded to First Presbyterian Church in 1835. In 1860, the congregation decided to build the brick church. The present building was constructed for $5,132 and it was dedicated on March 29, 1862.

Bricks for the church, which was built in the early Gothic revival architectural style, were made at the brickworks known as Jacob’s Hollow, where the present Lancaster County fairgrounds are today. A high-arched open vestibule had doors that led to the upstairs galleries on three sides of the sanctuary. The galleries were said to be for the black servants of the Lancaster families who attended the church and also for free blacks who attended services there.

On Feb. 28, 1865, Union soldiers made entries in the church’s record. The church was occupied by the horses of Union Gen. Judson Kilpatrick of Gen. William Sherman’s cavalry.

It’s believed that the unit stole the church’s silver communion set, left the church and went down Gay Street. They made fireballs from turpentine and cloth and tossed them on the roof of the old jail. The roof of the jail burned but it was not destroyed.

First Presbyterian Church built a new building on the grounds where the Lancaster County Administration Building stands today, and later moved its sanctuary to its current home on North Main Street.

Stained glass was first installed in the church in 1899.

First Presbyterian held its last service in the Gay Street church in April 1926 and it was rented to Calvary Baptist Church.

Dr. James Thornwell, a teacher and theologian, and Dr. J. Marion Sims, known as the father of modern gynecology, were associated with the original church.

Col. Leroy Springs, founder of Springs Industries and his son, Col. Elliott White Springs, who later headed Springs Industries, attended services there.


Contact reporter Jesef Williams at (803) 283-1152