Fred W. Symmes Chapel - "The Pretty Place"
Updated: Dec 5, 2021
100 YMCA Camp Rd,
Cleveland, SC 29635
Built in 1941 by Fred Symmes, the chapel was donated to the YMCA Camp in Greenville.
This chapel is often referred to as "the pretty place" chapel due to it's absolutely stunning view. It's one of those places that lives up to it's hype. Perched upon a mountain in Cleveland, South Carolina, The chapel offers stunning views all the way out into the North Carolina wilderness. Because of it's serene beauty, the Chapel is often times booked for private events. It can be difficult to almost impossible to find a Saturday that is open to the general public. I highly recommend checking their website daily for visitation availability. Don't be surprised if you notice availability varies by hour.
The drive to the chapel is what I would describe as a good country road. It is blanketed with immense amounts of greenery, which consists of a mixture of mountain scenery, farmland and water ways. I bet this area is stunning in the fall.
On the route to the chapel, pay close attention to parking areas just off the highway. To our surprise, there were various little food vendors set up along the way, all of which were selling a variety of treats. These are randomly stationed and come up on you quickly with no warning. You, of course, can always spot them going up and check them out coming down.
At the Chapel
It's important to note there are no public restrooms at this location. There are porta-potty's available, but only for certain seasons. While it is free to visit this location, you will find in the foyer area of the chapel, just past the stairs, a donation slot in the wall. I would encourage you to take the opportunity to give.
My only negative about the chapel isn't actually about the chapel itself, but rather the people. It was a bit crowded when we visited and some of these individuals got my spirit all stirred up. So, instead of diving into that frustration head on, let me give some visitor suggestions:
Be self aware - Just remember you're not the only person here to appreciate the scenery. Although you may feel invisible in your social life, you are not!! People cannot see through you!
Be respectful - This chapel has become a place of pilgrimage for those wanting to have private intimate moments with God on the proverbial mountain. This is somewhat difficult to do, if you're being obnoxiously loud. Also, the sound under the roof of the chapel carries.
Prayer and photography - People desiring either one of these will have to activate their patience, due to reasons mentioned above. Maybe even pregame with some prayer. Hang in there, don't get frustrated and leave. It's worth the wait.
Remember - This is on camp property and there is an abundance of campers. So, please drive carefully, be patient and also understand this will play a role in the noise & crowd factor. I did not fully realize this when I visited, for some reason I did not believe the camp was still active. It is!
If you find yourself sitting on a pew in the back patiently waiting for the crowd to disburse for a photo opportunity, perhaps do this instead. Just beyond the famous cross are some plaques that are absolutely worth checking out. You might not notice them from the back, so get close to the front.
Also go and enjoy the view, it's gorgeous.
You can always return to the top of the stairs for that famous shot on your way out.
It is also worth noting that I did hit this location in the middle of the day. We drove a good distance off our main course to accommodate this stop. It might be worth your while to come earlier or later in the day to potentially avoid the crowds.
*Also no pets are allowed anywhere on the premises.
To my sisters and Tam - I did sit here and think of you. I did cover you all individually in thoughts of love, compassion and blessing. I sent my love and prayers up to heaven on your behalf and out in the vast unknown.
As always, keep it safe, keep it cool, and stay curious.