Cunnington Avenue Charleston Charleston County South Carolina USA Postal Code: 29405
Cemetery notes and/or description: The Brown Fellowship Society (BFS) was the first black burial association in Charleston, SC. It was founded in 1790 by Free Persons of Color who attended St. Philip’s Episcopal, but who, because of the color of their skins, were not permitted to be buried in the St. Philip’s churchyard. The rector at St. Philip's suggested that they form their own burial association, and they did. The original Brown Fellowship Society Cemetery opened at 54 Pitt Street in 1794.
The cemetery pictured here is not of that original BFS site at 54 Pitt Street in Charleston, but is that of its successor on Cunnington Avenue.
Burials at the Pitt Street location continued until well into the 1900s, when declining membership and a Charleston street and sidewalk tax led to the Society’s forfeiture of the property. Through a long and fitful series of negotiations, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston bought the Pitt Street location, which was adjacent to the Bishop England High School, in 1956. The Cunnington Avenue site (pictured here) was purchased at that time as the intended successor to the Pitt Street cemetery.
Although there are reports of promises made to move both headstones and human remains from Pitt Street to Cunnington Avenue, only scant handful of headstones was moved. There is no evidence that any remains were removed, nor is the fate known of the rest of the many headstones and monuments, some of which were ornately and elaborately carved. The Pitt Street location became a parking lot.
In 2001, the Pitt Street location was sold by the Diocese to the College of Charleston. During excavation for the College’s new Addlestone library at the site, human remains were discovered. The College subsequently erected a monument commemorating the use of these grounds as a cemetery by the BFS and other groups. The original BFS Cemetery is still partially under the parking lot at 54 Pitt Street and partially under the grassy quadrangle behind the Addlestone Library.