Widely known as the “Father of Greenville,” Vardry McBee (1775-1864) shaped the early fabric of the city. He did so mainly through his landholdings, specifically the 11,028 acres he purchased in 1815 from Lemuel Alston in what was then called the Greenville District.
In addition to donating land for Greenville’s first school, he gifted four religious denominations — Episcopalian, Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian — with land for four of the city’s earliest churches. McBee is buried at Christ Church Episcopal, the first church he helped form in 1825.
Though some have moved from their original locations, these venerable houses of worship, established between 1825 and 1850, remain downtown today.
The spiritual landscape McBee seeded nearly 200 years ago has grown into a diversity of denominations. The list of local houses of worship is vast and varied; some meet in historic structures, others via digital platforms. The faithful in the 864 gather in churches, temples, shrines, mosques and fellowship halls—sometimes even high school gymnasiums while new congregations are planted.
While the Bible Belt nickname is well-earned, in addition to every variety of Christian church—traditional as well as contemporary—the community is blessed with Baha’i, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim houses of worship, too.
FOUR ORIGINAL DOWNTOWN CHURCHES