Before the American Revolution, Scots-Irish settlers came to western Fairfield County and established a farming community. They soon began worshipping at a site just west of Little River. First known as Little River and later as Ebenezer, the congregation was part of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. The congregation worked hard to build a brick meeting house, with members making the bricks from nearby clay deposits and working on the church building after crops were laid by. According to tradition the original meeting house was completed in 1788 and underwent renovations over the years. It remains one of the oldest church buildings in upper South Carolina.
The most important event in the history of the building occurred on May 9, 1803. Representatives from Associate Reformed Presbyterian congregations met on that day and formed the Synod of the Carolinas, one of four regional synods of the denomination, which had been created in 1782. The Synod of the Carolinas later became the Synod of the South and today continues as the General Synod of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. Thus, the Old Brick Church is one of the most important historic sites for members of the denomination.
One of the most colorful events in the long history of the building occurred during the Civil War. Many of the men of the community had enlisted in the Confederate Army. Union forces moved through the area in 1865. Retreating Confederates burned the bridge over Little River to slow down the federal advance. The Union forces ripped up the floor of the church to build a temporary bridge over the river. One Union soldier penciled the following message, which is still visible on the wall at the rear entrance:
Citizens of this community: Please excuse us for defacing your house of worship so much. It was absolutely necessary to effect a crossing over the Creek, as the Rebs destroyed the bridge. – A Yankee.
The church is surrounded by a beautiful cemetery containing the graves of dozens of early settlers and church members. Many veterans of the Revolutionary War and Civil War are buried here. The stone wall surrounding the cemetery was built in the 1850s of Winnsboro Blue Granite from the nearby quarry. The church and cemetery are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The Ebenezer congregation was greatly weakened by the Civil War, and services were discontinued. It was reorganized in 1893, but migration away from the area led to the dissolution of the congregation in the early twentieth century. The church building, now generally known as the Old Brick Church, is maintained as a historical site by Catawba Presbytery and is available for special services, weddings, and historical and genealogical tours. The cemetery is still in active use.
Help Us Preserve The Old Brick Church
For many years, the Bethel ARP Church in Winnsboro, SC oversaw the maintenance of the Old Brick Church. In 2007, Catawba Presbytery appointed the Commission on the Old Brick Church to continue the stewardship of this important property. The membership of the Commission is provided by various churches in the Presbytery on a rotating basis.
Financial support for the work of the Commission comes largely from donations from interested individuals as well as members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian denomination, with some yearly support from Catawba Presbytery. The costs include insurance, yard maintenance, building maintenance and improvements, cemetery restoration, and programming. To view a report of the condition and needs for preserving the church cemetery, please see the following: Download Chicora Foundation Report (PDF)
You can help support this work by making an online contribution through the links below, or via check directed to the Treasurer of Catawba Presbytery. Gifts can be designated for ongoing expenses support or for the Old Brick Church Endowment Fund. We appreciate your support.
Contributions by Check:
Please send checks marked for the Old Brick Church to:
T. C. S. Lever, Jr.
Treasurer of Catawba Presbytery
1787 Windsor Drive
Lancaster, S. C. 29720