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Trinity Cathedral will close for tours on May 16

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Trinity Episcopal Cathedral will close for tours on May 16. The Cathedral, located at 1100 Sumter Street, across from the State House, is currently open for tours from 10 a.m-2 p.m. Monday-Friday. It will re-open for tours around the middle of September.

Trinity reopened in October, 2010 after a 2 1/2 year restoration. The restoration was part of the Cathedral's preparations for its bicentennial in 2012. The Cathedral building itself dates from 1846.

Visitors will be able to see the fruits of that restoration including the red dome over the Cathedral's high altar. Other points of interest include the baptismal font; a gift from the Hampton family that was designed by sculptor Hiram Powers and the stained glass windows from England, Germany and this country.

A tour of the Cathedral graveyard is also included. One of the oldest in Columbia, the graveyard is the final resting place of many prominent South Carolinians including James F. Byrnes who was Secretary of State under President Harry Truman and Governor of South Carolina from 1951-1955. Also buried here is General Wade Hampton III,veteran of the Civil War and the first post-reconstruction Governor of South Carolina.

Tours are offered by Cathedral docents at no charge but donations are accepted.Tours begin at the main Cathedral entrance on Sumter Street.

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Trinity baptismal font
Trinity baptismal font photo by author

Trinity baptismal font

The Baptismal Font at Trinity Cathedral was sculpted by Hiram Powers as a gift from the Hampton family. Powers' original sculpture was deemed too small for the Cathedral and that font was given to an Episcopal Church in Union, S.C. The second font is still in use today. Powers relationship with the Hampton family soured on the issue of slavery. Powers was a native of Vermont which outlawed slavery in 1791, when it became a state.

Trinity red dome
Trinity red dome photo by author

Trinity red dome

The Trinity red dome, added during the restoration, has quickly become the symbol of Trinity Cathedral. Before the restoration, the ceiling was just painted. The dome gives a focus point for worship,

Trinity high altar
Trinity high altar photo by author

Trinity high altar

The high altar is made from Italian Cararra marble. Surrounding it are black marble tablets with the Lord's Prayer, the Apostles' Creed and the Ten Commandments. On one of them is a white mark that is simply an imperfection in the stone. 

Trinity Shand Window
Trinity Shand Window photo by author

Trinity Shand Window

The stained glass behind the high altar was given in memory of the Rev. Peter Shand who was the rector of Trinity Church for over 50 years. During and after the Civil War, Shand refused to offer the prayer for the President of the United States found in the Book of Common Prayer.