Two preservation awards given to Catholic buildings

Blessed Sacrament Church is shown prior to the installation of its newly designed steeples. The church won an award for the renovation.

CHARLESTON—The Preservation Society of Charleston has recognized two local Catholic buildings for excellence in historic preservation.

The bishop’s residence at 114 Broad St., and Blessed Sacrament Church at 5 Saint Teresa Drive, each received Carolopolis Awards, which recognize exceptional projects that protect the historic resources of the Lowcountry. 

The bishop’s residence received the Pro Merito Award, which is given to properties that received a Carolopolis award at least 20 years ago and have maintained a high standard of preservation or have undergone a second, significant exterior rehabilitation, restoration, or preservation effort, according to the Preservation Society.

Carolopolis awards were bestowed upon the bishop’s residence, known as The Colonel Thomas Pinckney House, in 1968 and 1991.

The steeples were replaced in August 2019.

The two-and-a-half story brick building was completed by Col. Pinckney in 1829. Standing on a high basement, the house is distinguished by a stone columned front portico and triple sash windows surmounted by marble lintels. 

The Pinckney family retained the property until 1866 when it was sold to the Bishop of Charleston, who at that time was Bishop Patrick N. Lynch. It remains the residence for Charleston bishops.

The primary focus of the recent rehabilitation project was reinforcing the integrity of the structure and historic features. 

Lydia Doyle, diocesan director of Planning and Operations, said they had to remove all the old mortar. As they created new mortar it had to be tested to make sure it was compatible with the historic brick. Doyle explained that the original mortar was designed to be soft so buildings could shift without causing fractures and breaks in the brick. The new mortar also needed to be soft to maintain the structural integrity of the brick.

Other areas that were renovated include the original marble lintels that were carefully removed and reset to correct a negative slope that had resulted in water intrusion. Also, all triple-hung windows were restored and repainted. 

Finally, the internal gutter system that ran from the top of the house was removed to allow for repairs, and the temporarily removed slate roofing was reinstalled as before, Doyle said.

As for Blessed Sacrament Church, it received an Exterior Carolopolis Award for the replacement of its original steeples.

The church, which has been called “one of West Ashley’s most iconic buildings”, was constructed in 1962 with two 65-foot steeples. 

Those spires were toppled during Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and the church was unable to replace them until a founding member made an anonymous donation of $160,000 specifically to replace the steeples.

The preservation society noted that the team worked from the original 1960s drawings and period photographs to create new, custom-built steeples installed in August 2019. 

The reconstructed steeples match the historic originals in height and reflect the same star shaped profile, in keeping with the original design.