Serendipitous Detours – Old Sheldon Church Ruins, SC

Sheldon Church Ruins better

Today’s post is the first in a new series – Serendipitous Detours. Have you ever noticed that sometimes the BEST things in life are the unexpected twists and turns? On my first bike tour in 2016, we hit a detour along the path, and it ended up being one of my favorite biking days. We rode extra miles that day, but experienced quiet country roads, lovely little villages and even found a WWI/WWII cemetery that looked like it was just a place where a battle took place and the dead were buried right there.

Sheldon Church gate good one

While on a road trip, I love to find quirky, cool places to stop. My family has come to expect this from me (as they get older, they appreciate this talent of mine more); they either tolerate or enjoy my finds depending on the day and the place. Register Cliff, in the southeast corner of Wyoming, is one of my all-time favorite road trip finds. Originally a stop on the Oregon Trail, thousands of travelers stopped to camp and carve their names into the cliff as a remembrance. In one spot, you can see where three generations of one family passed through; the Unthanks engraved their names in 1850, 1869, and 1931. If you ever drive through Wyoming, I highly recommend a stop; it’s not far off the route from Rocky Mountain National Park to Mount Rushmore.

Sheldon Church Side view good

Last weekend, moseying home along I-95 from a week in Florida, I made another such serendipitous find; the Old Sheldon Church Ruins. Believed to be the first building in America built to resemble a Greek temple, and originally named Prince William’s Parish Church, it was built in the 1750’s, and burned by both the British during the Revolutionary War and the Union Army during the US Civil War. All that remains today are Greek Revival columns, walls & scattered graves amongst noble live oaks dripping with Spanish moss. As Lt. Governor William Bull paid for much of the church, locals gave it the nickname “Sheldon Church” after the Bull family’s ancestral home in England.

Sheldon church graves with spanish moss

Today it is owned by St Helena’s Parish Church, and members of the church can get married in the ruins (think Ross and Emily’s wedding from Friends). It’s open from dawn to dusk for visitors. These evocative ruins are just ten-fifteen minutes off I-95 from exit 35 or 33 in Yemassee, SC (depending on whether you’re coming from the north or south). Three picnic tables are tucked off to the side, and in a cooler, less buggy season, the ruins would make an amazing lunch stop, although there are no restroom facilities. I wandered about for 20 minutes or so, but then the bugs drove me back to my car (if you plan to stop in the muggy summer months, bring bug spray). Even so, I quite enjoyed reading the gravestones scattered about and taking photos from every angle. Sharing the spot with only two other families, it was blessedly peaceful and atmospheric. If you are ever passing by (it’s not far from Beaufort), make the time to explore!

Sheldon church baby grave

I’d love to hear about your roadside discoveries! Leave a comment below and let me know about your favorite places!