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Port Royal's Union Church has been added to the National Register of Historic Places -- a nod to the building's historical importance and a designation that makes it eligible for federal preservation tax credits and grants.
"We've been trying to do this for several years, and it means so much for the community," said Anna Ellerbe, president of the Historic Port Royal Foundation. "It make this a destination for people who are coming to the area. ... We also are now in line for grants to maintain and repair rather than just having to raise funds continually."
Built in 1878, the church sits in Port Royal's downtown village on 11th Street and has served Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians, Ellerbe said.
Today, the congregation of St. Mark's Chapel, which describes itself as a community of Episcopalians with other denominations in the mix, holds services at the church every Sunday.
The town owns the building, town manager Van Willis said, and has an arrangement with the Historic Port Royal Foundation, which uses the church as its office and supplies a docent to give free tours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.
The building's tall arched windows, about 12 feet by 4 feet on each side, and its 16-foot ceilings are original, as is the church's bell tower and bronze bell, which St. Mark's rings at 10 a.m. every Sunday. The building, which also features original handmade pews, heart pine floors and a standing metal roof, was completely rehabilitated in 2004.
The church also has a small Port Royal museum, Ellerbe said.
Port Royal spends about $5,000 to $6,000 annually maintaining the church, in addition to other funds raised by the foundation, Willis said.
Using a grant, the town hired a consultant to prepare the national-register application, which first needed approval from the State Historic Preservation Office before it could move on to the National Parks Service, Willis said.
The church was officially listed on the National Register on Nov. 17, according to the National Park Service's website.
Port Royal has one other building on the register -- the F.W. Scheper Store at the intersection of 8th Street and Paris Avenue -- according to the park service's website.
The listing is the first step toward eligibility for National Park Service-administered federal preservation tax credits and grant programs such as Save America's Treasures and Preserve America, according to the website.