1306 Hampton Street
First Baptist Church
Organized in 1809 with 13 members: 9 whites and 4 African Americans, the first church, a wooden building was erected two years later in 1811. The older part of the building with the white columns was finished in 1859 with an interior slave gallery. The church has the style of many New England churches from this time period. In 1860, the congregation consisted of 120 white members and 462 African American members. It is argued that the Civil War started in this building as the Secession Convention convened here on December 17, 1860. Purportedly frightened by an outbreak of smallpox in Columbia, the delegates adjourned to Charleston, where the representatives signed the Ordinance of Secession three days later on December 20. According to tradition, First Baptist’s sexton misled Union troops, bent on retribution at the site of the Secession Convention, into destroying Washington Street United Methodist Church instead.