Tabernacle Baptist Church – 907 Craven Street, Beaufort SC


Built in: 1840

Remodeled in: 1893

The Tabernacle, a meeting house and lecture room, was built by Beaufort Baptist Church in 1840s, perhaps on site of a praise house built before 1832. On 1 September 1863, Tabernacle Baptist Church was organized by the Rev. Soloman Peck of Boston, Massachusetts, with much of its 500 member African-American congregation coming from the Beaufort Baptist Church. The new congregation acquired this building and continues to use it for worship. Damaged in the hurricane of 1893, it was rebuilt and rededicated. The cemetery contains graves of Bythewood family (the earliest dating to 1817) suggesting an early-19th century burial ground occupies site. A memorial to Robert Smalls is also located in the cemetery where Smalls and his first wife Hannah are buried. Robert Smalls (1839-1915), was born into slavery. In 1862, while working as part of the slave crew of the Confederate steamer “The Planter,” Smalls managed to capture the ship and turn it over to Union forces. After the war, his distinguished career of public service included election to the South Carolina House of Representatives (1868-1870) and Senate (1870-1875), as well as four terms in the U. S. House of Representatives (1875-1879, 1882-1887). Smalls also served as a major general in the state militia and later served as Port Collector for Beaufort.


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