TAKE A TOUR!
Tour The Zion Cemetery and Baynard Mausoleum
March – November, Fridays at 10am.
Learn about the Oldest Existing Structure on Hilton Head Island and The Heritage Library’s efforts to preserve and protect the site.
Click here to register for the weekly tours.
The Zion Chapel of Ease was built in 1788 under the direction of Captain John Stoney and Isaac Fripp. The Colonial Assembly of South Carolina had created St. Luke’s Parish in 1767, but the Revolutionary War delayed attempts at church construction until the 1780’s. This was the first formal church on Hilton Head Island, a wooden structure on a brick foundation, approximately 30’ X 40’. It served as the planter’s church and it was located at the center of island activities in the vicinity of a muster house and a Masonic lodge.
Initially, Sunday church services were alternated between the Zion Chapel of Ease on Hilton Head Island and the main parish church, Saint Luke’s, on present day Route 170 in Okatie. A chapel of ease provided for the ease and comfort of its parishioners who lived some distance from the main parish church. A preacher would visit the chapel, probably monthly, spend the night with one of his parishioners, and then conduct service that Sunday.
The first permanent minister was the Reverend Philip Mathews in the 1820’s. After his death in 1828, the church fell out of use. The church was consecrated in 1833 by the Rt. Rev. Nathaniel Bowen, an Episcopal Bishop, and services were then held regularly until the Civil War.
The church is no longer standing, but its cemetery contains the graves and memorials of four Revolutionary War Patriots: Captain John Stoney, Charles Davant, James Davant, and Isaac Baldwin. In 1846 William Eddings Baynard built his mausoleum, which is the oldest structure still standing on Hilton Head Island.