Reward offered in vandalism at historic church

SENECA — A reward is being offered for information about vandalism at the Old Pickens Presbyterian Church just across the Oconee County line near Duke Energy.

According to Historic Old Pickens Foundation vice president Martha Parris, vandals in a vehicle with high ground clearance were responsible for damage to the historic church sometime between July 22 and July 26.

Parris said gravestones were crushed or moved from foundations in the church’s cemetery, a tree was damaged and a window was broken in the historic building.

The church is the only remaining building on the original site of the town of Pickens Courthouse. After the Civil War, Pickens District was divided into Pickens and Oconee counties and new county seats were established at Walhalla and the new town of Pickens, where most of the buildings from the old town were moved.

The church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but it no longer serves a congregation.

Parris said the damage to the cemetery and church represents a setback to the Historic Old Pickens Foundation’s plans to add a kiosk for display of historical information and documents pertaining to the cemetery so they will be available every day year-round. The foundation currently welcomes visitors on Sunday afternoons during the summer, tour groups on arrangement and presents appropriate events several times each year in an ongoing effort to maintain the church and the cemetery and promote the history of the region.

The site is open to visitors from 2:30-5 p.m. Sundays from May to October, with docents present to tell the story and answer questions. The grounds are open each day from sunrise to sunset all year.

To become a member of the “Friends of Old Pickens” and receive a quarterly newsletter, send monetary donations to Historic Old Pickens Foundation, P.O. Box 149, Salem, SC 29676. Donations are welcomed and appreciated.

Anyone with information about the vandalism is asked to call the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office at (864) 638-4111.