Who Wants to Live Forever?: The Eternal Father of the Sea Chapel

December 9, 2012 — There was something about seeing the word “Eternal” branded so brazenly on a rotting structure, and something so Grecian and out of place in that South Carolina city about the phrase “Father of the Sea” that we had to pull into the overgrown parking lot to check it out.

We were on what was once the Charleston Navy Yard. Started in 1901 in North Charleston, the yard was shuttered in 1995 when the Navy outgrew it. Since that time, parts of the shipyard and its buildings were leased or sold to various interests. We were there to see the Civil War submarine Hunley, on display in one of those repurposed buildings. However, many of the structures just sit there on that old base decaying.

Like the Eternal Father of the Sea chapel.

Built in 1942, the Eternal Father of the Sea did its job throughout its course as the Naval chapel preserving the souls of seamen even if it couldn’t always preserve their bodies.

And right now, the state of preservation of the chapel itself is up in the air.

Today, it’s under the purview of the University of Clemson. Clemson is trying to turn the property into an educational campus for conservation studies and has sent students there to survey the damage as part of their curriculum. You can find their reports on it here.

Whether the Tigers end up saving the Eternal Father of the Sea or tearing it down, we’ll see. All I know is that it makes me want to sit on its bowed front stoop and strum Brandy on an out-of-tune guitar. She is a fine girl.