Walhalla Presbyterian Church

Walhalla, SC

This multiphase project for Walhalla Presbyterian Church restored a historic 1915 church gutted by a fire which left only the exterior sanctuary walls standing. While undertaking the restoration, the congregation wanted to preserve the feel of the original space while updating the facilities for the future.

The unusual original church design had the exterior appearance of a Greek cross with two porticos and a dome, but the interior “L” shaped plan featured fan seating oriented to one corner. The new design enlarges the platform area to better accommodate the choir and pulpit, and converts the previous choir loft into space for a future pipe organ.

Several classrooms were removed in order to enlarge the platform area. This strategy also exposed the existing stained glass windows which survived the fire, which are now in full view of the sanctuary. The restoration rebuilt and reconfigured the balcony to provide better sightlines and acoustics. New interior columns, a new copper dome, and a refurbished portico recall the church’s architectural history. A central gathering space/lobby provides a new welcome center and elevator to connect all three levels.

A renovation of the existing damaged fellowship hall created new classrooms, including more colorful spaces for preschoolers. The exterior metal stair that served as the second exit from the education second floor was replaced by a more inviting covered stair and entry portico.

In order to protect the building from weather as quickly as possible, the team implemented an unusual project track, with construction of the permanent roof and dome base beginning as design documents were being completed. A future phase of construction will add a new Fellowship Hall.