I first started writing about churches at the beginning of Lent. In some countries, it is customary to visit seven churches during Holy Week. I knew that I could not visit seven churches in one week, but felt like I could talk about seven different churches over the season of Lent. So far, we have talked about:
St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Wilmington, NC; Santo Thomas Catholic Church in Chichicastenango, Guatemala; Chapel of the Holy Cross Catholic Church in Sedona, AZ, the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist Episcopalian Church in Savannah, GA and Ann Street Methodist Church in Beaufort, NC.
The sixth church on my list is St. Phillip’s Anglican Church. St. Philip’s is not an active church anymore, but rather ruins of a previous church. It was occupied for only 8 years, from 1768-1776, when the British set it on fire during an attack. The walls of the church are the only thing that remain. The church is located in Brunswick town, a “colonial ghost town” along the Cape Fear River in an area that was originally inhabited by Native Americans who were defeated in the Tuscarora War in 1715.
In 1862, during the Civil War, Confederate Army soldiers built trenches and a fort in Brunswick Town. It was eventually named Fort Anderson. In 1865, when Union soldiers attacked and defeated Confederate soldiers at Fort Anderson, some of the graves at St. Philip’s church were desecrated and Confederate bodies were left inside the church.
In the 1950’s, archaeologists began excavating the area around St. Philip’s and Ft. Anderson. They were able to find many historical artifacts, including the foundations of various structures, old bullets and “bombproofs” which were shelters used during enemy bombardment. Excavations are still ongoing and archaeologists continue to find artifacts.
In 1978, the area was listed in the National Register of Historic Places and more recently the television show, “Sleepy Hollow”, used the site as a set location for some of its episodes.
I visited the site in the 1980’s as a teenager and did not return again until recently, when I decided to write about it. I walked around inside the shell of the church and toured the grounds. Due to the multitude of historical tragedies that occurred in the area, an air of creepiness hovers about the site. Honestly, that is probably what drew me there as a teenager. However, and on the other hand, it is genuinely fascinating and quite lovely, as well. There is ample space for walking, a trail that extends along the river and lush, old trees all around the property.