Anna LaGrone hired by Preservation SC as Sacred Spaces program coordinator

Preservation South Carolina and Friends of Trinity Abbeville partnered to raise funds for Abbeville’s historic Trinity Episcopal Church. Anna LaGrone of Abbeville was recently hired to help evaluate and market the church as a possible events venue to maintain funds for the church’s needs.

Once Trinity Episcopal Church in Abbeville is permitted to reopen, church use as an event space, in addition to a place of Christian worship, could generate funds needed to complete renovations on the historic church, consecrated in 1860.

Preservation South Carolina and Friends of Trinity of Abbeville are optimistic that plan can work for renovation funds and money for the church’s needs going forward.

To that end, Preservation SC, a nonprofit dedicated to saving the state’s historic structures, has hired Anna LaGrone of Abbeville as program coordinator for its Sacred Spaces initiative, to help find ways to market the historic church as a space for weddings, concerts, educational programs and community gatherings.

Part of the job is also to attract a tenant or buyer for a donated service station building near the church, at the corner of Church and Vienna streets. The service station was donated by Beaty Oil Co.

LaGrone will be in a donated office space at 114 Court Square in Abbeville, from which the campaign to save Trinity will operate.

“Space on the square was donated by Bill Rogers, Abbeville Historical Society member” said Mike Bedenbaugh, Preservation SC’s executive director. “It is right next to The Rough House. ... Once we can get the church open, we can start having fundraising events in it that will make raising funds to complete renovations easier. We foresee the church opening this summer.”

LaGrone said part of the goal is to create a sustainable business model for the church, to ensure that it remains an anchor for downtown Abbeville.

The church has a small congregation and LaGrone said the entire community could be a part of restoration fundraising.

“My hope is to translate the community’s love for Trinity into a sense of responsibility for this sacred space,” LaGrone said. “I am so grateful to Bill (Rodgers) for his generosity in providing office space.”

Bedenbaugh said Trinity Episcopal’s roof work is complete and temporary measures have been taken to secure the church’s steeple, but work inside the sanctuary needs to be finished along with some power connection work and approval from building inspection officials before the church can reopen. Bedenbaugh said a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system has been installed. In April, the church’s leaning steeple was detached, anchored and straightened in a temporary fix.

“The church is still not fully renovated,” Bedenbaugh said. “With $200,000 or more left to raise, we can do the permanent fix on the steeple. We won’t know how short we are from that goal until people start writing checks. If we want to maintain the church and have it open for more than the next 12 months, we have to get the final monies in to make permanent fixes to the steeple.”

Preservation SC named Trinity Episcopal Church to its Places at Risk List in April of 2018. Before that, the church had been closed for worship and other gatherings because its 125-foot tall steeple was in danger of collapse.

Donate online at restoretrinity.org or mail contributions Preservation South Carolina, Sacred Spaces Restore Trinity Fund, Post Office Box 448, Abbeville, SC 29620.

Contact St. Claire Donaghy at 864-943-2518.