St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church began as a Sunday school in 1890 serving the spiritual needs of those who lived in what was then a sparsely populated area of Charleston known as South Hills, located across the river from downtown Charleston.
It began as an interdenominational fellowship, with gatherings at a local school. About 80 members attended.
In 1891, a bridge was built across the Kanawha River, and members of St. John's Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston became interested in the little Sunday school on the hill. In 1893, St. Matthew’s became a mission of the diocese. That same year, six acres of property were purchased and a native stone church was erected on the site. The mission achieved parish status in 1945.
In 1955, the congregation, having outgrown the little stone church, devised a long-range plan to build a larger facility. It would occur in three phases consisting of a new church, a companion education building and a new rectory. The new church held its first services on May 29, 1960.
The present campus includes the church (refurbished in 1987); a gymnasium built in 1924 to serve the greater community; Mathes Hall, the education/fellowship building that also houses the parish's administrative offices (built in 1972 as a wing to the gym); a cemetery and columbarium, and the Payne Memorial Garden (adjacent to the church) that can serve as a place for spiritual renewal as well as a place to hold receptions, weddings and other special events.