The Short, Active Life of St. Philips Church at Brunswick Town

The ruins of St. Philips Anglican Church at Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic SiteOn May 24, 1768, St. Philips Anglican Church at Brunswick Town on the Cape Fear River was dedicated.

Efforts to construct the church began in 1754, but it sat unfinished until 1759 when Gov. Arthur Dobbs proposed to make it “His Majesty’s Chapel in North Carolina.” Construction of St. Philips was funded initially through two lotteries and the sale of goods from the capture Spanish privateer, La Fortuna. Rev. John McDowell became the full-time minister for St. Philips Parish and received a small house and 300 acres of land nearby.

Construction was delayed many times and for many reasons, but Dobbs continued to push the project. In 1763, the 73-year-old governor married 15-year-old Justina Davis in the still unfinished church, and when he died in 1765 he was buried inside the structure.

Gov. William Tryon also took an interest in the church’s completion, seeing the project through to its finish in 1768. The parish was never very large and the church was not destined for a long life. Much of it was destroyed when the British sacked the town in 1776; only the four walls remain.

Check out Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site’s website for more information.

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