Have you ever been driving down a country road and been halted by an unexpected site? It happened to me recently in South Carolina. Sometimes the iPhone maps application will take you down an unexpected path that provides a surprisingly scenic route. On this particular occasion my husband and I followed the online navigational route which took us down a country road near Dalzell. Have you ever heard of Dalzell? Well, me neither, but the route took us down an eerily beautiful road lined with trees just dripping in moss.All of a sudden I spotted an historical marker. I'm always curious what story the markers are telling. Since we were in the woodsy wilderness I told my husband that we had to stop to read the sign and it was great that there was actually a pullover spot. Normally when the signs appear, there is no place to pull over to read the markers, especially when traveling at 55 mph (or more)! When I started reading the sign I was totally intrigued by the church I spotted and the description I read.
We had discovered the Church of the Holy Cross and who knew that Dr. Poinsett, the botanist who brought our Christmas flower, the poinsettia from Mexico to the United States, was buried in the church cemetery. The walls of the church had first been made from rammed earth, a mud compound, and was originally built in 1770. The original smaller structure was rebuilt in the 1800s. If I could have gotten into the church I might have been able to see some of the beautiful stained glass windows. The stained glass windows were designed by the French architect, Eugene Viollet-le-Duc though the glass works were made in Bavaria. The church organ was made by Henry Erben and was installed in 1851. It happens to be one of the only working Erben organs still in existence. The bell was cast in the Netherlands and is a "named" bell. Its sister bell, a twin to the Holy Cross bell, is located in the National Cathedral in D.C.
The church was under renovation and there were workers and equipment everywhere. I asked one of the workers if I could go inside the church and the big, burly guy I spoke to said, "don't think so." Of course, "thank you" seemed like the best response. So I clicked a couple of pictures and did my best to avoid the construction materials. I wish that road maps published an accompanying historical marker directory. As a lover of country roads and history, I would be more apt to stop to enjoy the surprises that one can find when taking the road less traveled.