St. Peter’s installs historic marker

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By VICKI BROWN

vbrown@lowcountry.com

Music and good words rang out recently at St. Peter’s AME Church on Fishburne Street, as guests and members gathered to dedicate a historic marker.

For almost 155 years, the iconic church has sat on the same lot and housed many congregations of African Americans throughout the centuries. St. Peter’s A.M.E. Church is the oldest black congregation in the City of Walterboro, and was established under the leadership of Rev. James Nesbitt in 1867. On June 3, 1992, the Colleton County Historical and Preservation Society presented St. Peter’s A.M.E. Church with the Walterboro Key Historic Property Award. The award was presented for preserving the visual heritage of the neighborhood and leaving the church in its original state with only a few minor cosmetic changes.

Walterboro Mayor Bill Young and Colleton County Councilman Phillip Taylor were on hand to welcome the guests and state their honor and being present to dedicate the marker.

Also present were Rev. Leon Maxwell, Pastor of St. Peter’s AME Church; Presiding Elder Phillip Anderson of Beaufort District of the AME SED; Victoria Smalls, Executive Director of the Gullah Geechie Cultural Heritage Corridor; and Michael Allen of the WeGOJA Foundation, formerly the South Carolina African American Heritage Foundation.

According to the South Carolina Historical Marker program, the designated markers indicate places important to understanding South Carolina's past, sites of significant events, or historic properties and structures. This marker was sponsored by USDA, WeGOJA Foundation and Colleton County Council. Research for this marker was provided by the Colleton Museum and the South Carolina Historic Preservation Office (SCHPO). Matt Mardell, Director of the Colleton Museum was excited be part of this project. “We were delighted to be able to work with the WeGoja Foundation and SCHPO in order to recognize a place with such historic significance,” said Mardell.

This new marker was installed near the highway and in front of the sanctuary. It reads: “Tradition holds that this African Methodist Episcopal church first met after the Civil War before organizing in 1867 under Rev. James R. Nesbitt. It was part of the A.M.E. church’s Walterboro Circuit which Nesbitt formed in 1868. Members acquired the lot for worship in 1875. The congregation was originally known as Walterboro A.M.E. before later adopting the name St. Peter’s.”

Presently, St. Peter’s A.M.E. is under the leadership of Pastor Leon R. Maxwell & First Lady Shaun J. Maxwell.

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