St. James the Greater Catholic Mission

National Register Listing
Street Address:
3087 Ritter Rd., Walterboro, SC (Colleton County)
Alternate Name:
Catholic Hill; Catholic Crossroads

NRHP Nomination

Record Number:
Description and Narrative:
The three resources of St. James the Greater Mission constitute an extremely rare example of a rural, southern, African American Roman Catholic parish, in continuous existence from its antebellum origins to today. The site is remarkable for possessing a complete, historically intact campus containing a church, a school, and a cemetery. The ca. 1935 church, St. James’ third, is situated on the same site that served the previous two churches built in 1833 and 1894. It is significant as an intact and essentially unaltered example of a vernacular church containing elements of the late Gothic Revival style clad entirely with wooden shingles. The church is one of the earliest rural Catholic churches still extant in the state of South Carolina. The schoolhouse is significant as an intact and rare example of a turn-of-the-twentieth-century I-house built specifically as a school building for African American students in South Carolina. The school was established in the late nineteenth century and the current building, constructed in 1901, provided private education for over one hundred local black pupils, regardless of religious affiliation, during the first half of the twentieth century when schools in South Carolina were segregated. The period of significance for St. James the Greater Mission is from 1835 to 1960. 1835 marks the earliest extant and decipherable gravestone in the cemetery and 1960 was the last year that St. James School operated as a Catholic school for African Americans; after this date, the parish lost a degree of historic autonomy and self-sufficiency as the education of its youth merged with other local schools. Listed in the National Register September 29, 2015.
Period of Significance:
1835 – 1960;1901;1935
Level of Significance:
Area of Significance:
Architecture;Ethnic Heritage: Black;Education;Religion
National Register Determination:
Date of Certification:
September 29 2015

Related places
Colleton County