St. Paul's Episcopal Church - circa 1857

1930 photo
Part of the history recorded on St. Paul's website:

1724, one year after Beaufort's official incorporation as a town, Carteret County was designated as St. John's Parish. The first vestrymen of St. John's Parish were Christopher Gale, Joseph Bell, John Shaw, John Nelson, Richard Whitehurst, Richard Williamson, Richard Russell, John Shackleford, Thomas Merriday, Enoch Ward, Joseph Fulford and Charles Cogdail.

In 1724 a 1/2 acre lot with a building upon it, was deeded for use as a courthouse and church until such time as a proper church building could be built. The courthouse was used for Anglican worship services for a number of years.

In 1774, Mr. David Lewis of Beaufort died and left the sum of £100 for the construction of a new church building. It was described as "small, old fashioned, with immense stone pillars." In 1776, as construction drew to a close, the Revolutionary War would cause the Church of England to disappear from Beaufort. Anglicans stopped using the new building, which was shortly thereafter used by Methodists. Although records exist for St. John's Parish after the time of the war, they generally have to do with the parish as an organization for social welfare, but not as an organized community in Anglican worship. A substantial period of relative inactivity followed. Anglicanism effectively disappeared from Carteret County until shortly before the Civil War.
On September 1, 1855 a new parish was organized by William J. Potter, Isaac Ramsey, Robert E. Walker, James J. Whitehurst, Samuel S. Duffy, Elizabeth F. Duffy, Josephine E. Jones, William Cramer, D. B. L. Bell, J. B. Moore, Caroline S. Poole and the Reverend David D. Van Antwerp, a chaplain stationed at Fort Macon. The first service of this fledgling church was held in the Academy of S. D. Pool on September 2, 1855. Services continued at the Academy until December of 1855. At this time, the Beaufort Baptist Church had no pastor. St. Paul's Church had no church building of its own. In an ecumenical spirit difficult to find a century earlier, St. Paul's Church was allowed to hold services in the Baptist Church until early 1857. A year earlier, Abigail Hill sold a plot of land to the Vestry of St. Paul's Church for the sum of ten dollars. It was on this lot that the present church building was constructed. Visitors to St. Paul's Church may note that the pews in the church are, in fact, the original "temporary" pews. They are of simple, box-like construction.

The first St. Paul's School, opened in 1858 with 30 pupils and led by Elizabeth Robinson and Sallie Pasteur, actually continued its operations through the Civil War, but ultimately closed in 1867, having lost many of its pupils to war. Van Antwerp writes of the school, "The civil war has had a disastrous effect upon its prosperity."

Van Antwerp was unable to attend diocesan convention until 1865, but at that time gave a full report of the parish's life. "The church has made substantial progress in the confidence and affections of the people," he noted. "The prejudice that once existed against it has so far departed that no visible demonstration of that spirit is now apparent. It has worked its way into the minds and affections of many who were once severely opposed to it."
Van Antwerp left the parish in 1867. In 1878 an attempt was made to reopen the school, but little success met this endeavor. 

In 1899, under the guidance of Mrs. Nannie Geffroy and the Rev. Thomas P. Noe (right), then Rector, St. Paul's School reopened.
The school operated continuously until 1939. In 1951 a rectory, now used as the Parish Office building, was built upon the site of the school. The parish house is on the site of the school's old dormitory and dining hall.
Likely built by shipbuilders, this Gothic Revival structure still retains most of the original features that contribute to its uniqueness. Large exposed scissor trusses actually make the interior resemble an upside-down ark.

The beautiful stained glass windows memorialize significant members who have been part of the church’s history. One window recognizes the first rector, the Reverend D. D. Van Antwerp, who reorganized the congregation shortly before the Civil War. Another stained glass window is in memory of Sallie Pasteur Davis, mother of Mary Ann (Nannie Pasteur) Davis Geffroy. (Mary Ann changed her name sometime before her marriage to Malachi Geffroy.)

Rector from 1918 to 1928, Rev. George William Lay (1860-1937) and wife Anna Booth Valch (1870-1956) lived at 118 Moore Street. Rev. Lay had been rector at St. Mary's School in Raleigh from 1907-1918. The 1920 Beaufort Census found George 59, Anna 47, Elizabeth 22, Ellen 20, Anne 18, Lucy 16, Henry 14, and 12-year-old Virginia Lay. Each of their daughters had wedding receptions in the large side garden of their home . Elizabeth married author and Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Paul Green in 1922. It has been said that Green wrote his first short story while visiting Elizabeth.  

Painting of St. Paul's Church and history are featured in Mary Warshaw's book Porchscapes - The Colors of Beaufort, North Carolina - Three Centuries of History Woven Through Art and Words.