“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Abbeville in Abbeville County, South Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)

Abbeville County Courthouse (1908)

Abbeville County Courthouse (1908) Marker image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, December 23, 2008
1. Abbeville County Courthouse (1908) Marker
Abbeville's 6th courthouse - designed in beaux arts classical style by Edwards & Walter of Atlanta - dedicated in 1908 with City Hall/Opera House. (Two buildings indirectly financed by profits from Abbeville Dispensary, only one still operating above Columbia.)

• 1st Courthouse - wooden frame building, pulled down in 1825.

• 2nd Courthouse (c. 1825) - two-story brick building demolished after discovery of workmen's fraud (kaolin used instead of lime in mortar).

• 3rd Courthouse (c. 1829) designed by Robert Mills during his residency in Abbeville - some years later one corner found to be sinking & deemed unsafe because of cracks in wall, replaced by

• 4th Courthouse in 1853 - destroyed by fire in 1872.

• 5th Courthouse (c. 1870's) replaced by present structure in 1908.

(Significant Portrait of John C. Calhoun inside.)

Erected by Abbeville County Historic Society.
Marker series. This marker is included in the South Carolina, Abbeville County Historical Society/Commission, and the South Carolina, Abbeville Historical Sites Tour marker series.
Location. 34° 10.65′ N, 82° 22.7′ W. Marker is in Abbeville, South Carolina, in Abbeville
Abbeville County's Sixth Courthouse and Marker image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, December 23, 2008
2. Abbeville County's Sixth Courthouse and Marker
County. Marker is on Court Square (State Highway 28) south of Washington Street (State Highway 203), on the right when traveling north. Click for map. Marker is located near the front entrance to the courthouse, adjacent to a memorial to Major Thomas D. Howie. Marker is at or near this postal address: 102 Court Square, Abbeville SC 29620, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 10 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Lynching of Anthony Crawford / Racial Violence in South Carolina (here, next to this marker); Abbeville Opera House (1908) (a few steps from this marker); Belmont Inn (1903) (a few steps from this marker); Abbeville County Veterans Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); Operation Desert Shield / Storm Monument (within shouting distance of this marker); The Law Offices of John C. Calhoun (within shouting distance of this marker); Humane Society Alliance Fountain (1912) (within shouting distance of this marker); Abbeville County Confederate Monument (within shouting distance of this marker); "Big Bob" (within shouting distance of this marker); Abbeville Square (within shouting distance of this marker). Click for a list of all markers in Abbeville.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Courthouses in South Carolina designed by William Augustus Edwards
Also see . . .
Abbeville County Courthouse -<br>Front (Southwest) Side image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, December 23, 2008
3. Abbeville County Courthouse -
Front (Southwest) Side

1. Abbeville County Courthouse. Constructed in 1908 to replace an earlier courthouse destroyed by fire, the Abbeville County Courthouse is one of six existing courthouses in South Carolina designed by Darlington native William Augustus Edwards of the Atlanta firm of Edwards and Walter. (Submitted on December 30, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

2. Abbeville County Courthouse. The Abbeville County Courthouse, built in 1908, is an historic courthouse located on Court Square in the city of Abbeville in Abbeville County, South Carolina. (Submitted on December 30, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

3. Beaux-Arts architecture. Beaux Arts architecture denotes the academic neoclassical architectural style that was taught at the Ιcole des Beaux Arts in Paris. (Submitted on December 30, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

4. Robert Mills. Robert Mills (August 12, 1781 – March 3, 1855) is sometimes called the first native born American to become a professional architect, though Charles Bulfinch perhaps has a clearer claim to this honor. (Submitted on September 2, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

5. William Augustus Edwards. William Augustus Edwards, also known as William A. Edwards, (December 8, 1866-March 30, 1939) was an Atlanta-based American architect
Abbeville County Courthouse - Entrance image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, December 23, 2008
4. Abbeville County Courthouse - Entrance
renowned for the educational buildings, courthouses and other public and private buildings that he designed in Florida, Georgia and his native South Carolina. (Submitted on December 30, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

6. South Carolina Dispensary. The South Carolina Dispensary system was a state-run monopoly on liquor sales in the United States state of South Carolina which operated from 1893 to 1907 statewide and until 1916 in some counties. (Submitted on November 21, 2011, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

7. Abbeville County, South Carolina. Abbeville County is 508 square miles and encompasses the natural resources of Calhoun Falls State Park and Marina, Richard Russell Dam, and Sumter National Forest. Historically Abbeville County includes the Abbeville Opera House and historic district, the Burk-Stark Mansion circa 1841, and Erskine College located in the town of Due West. (Submitted on November 21, 2011, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 
Additional comments.
1. Abbeville County Courthouse - National Register Nomination Form
Abbeville County Courthouse was built in 1908, to replace an earlier courthouse destroyed by fire. William Augustus Edwards, of the Atlanta firm of Edwards
Abbeville Town Clock -<br>Inscription Reads image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, September 27, 2008
5. Abbeville Town Clock -
Inscription Reads
Given in Appreciation
the City of Abbeville, S.C.
in Memory of
Daughter Dixie Amanda
Edith & Jimmy Davis & Family
This Day - December 15, 2000
and Walter, was the architect and Frederic Minshall of Abbeville was the contractor.

The courthouse is a monumental two-story brick building, located on the public square of Abbeville. The facade is characterized by a projecting entrance pavilion with a colossal Ionic portico in antis,of stone construction. The portico has two pair of unfluted stone columns, with Scamozzi capitals, which support a full entablature, composed of an architrave consisting of three fascias; a plain frieze; and a cornice composed of a bead-and-reel astragal, a cyma recta with leaf-and-tongue carving, a dentil course, a bead-and-reel astragal, an egg-and-dart ovolo, a soffit and corona, a cyma reversa, a fillet, and a crowning cyma recta. This entablature is carried around the entire elevation unifying and ordering its elements.

The facade beneath the portico is of brick, laid in American Flemish bond, with raked joints. A wooden arch encompasses both levels of the central bay of the facade; the central entrance on the first floor has new glass doors, while the casement windows of the second story are original. The single bays flanking the entrance pavilion have similar arches encompassing the casement windows of the first and second stories. A broad brick attic story rises above the entablature; this attic story bears a stone course inscribed "ABBEVILLE COUNTY COURT HOUSE."

Cornerstone of 6th (Current) Courthouse Being Laid image. Click for full size.
Abbeville County by the Abbeville County Historical Society, October 1, 1908
6. Cornerstone of 6th (Current) Courthouse Being Laid
left side elevation has a central, recessed, three-bay section with a flanking single bay pavilion towards the front and a three-bay pavilion towards the rear. The sloping lot allows for two full basement levels at the rear of the building. The facade entablature in full is carried around the foremost pavilion; only the cornice is carried around the rest of the side elevation. The broad arched windows of the second story of the side elevation mark the courtroom. The lesser windows of the side elevation have flat brick arches with stone key and terminal voussoirs. This fenestration is carried out over the rear elevation, which, owing to the sloping site, and the full expression of the attic story, has five full stories.

The right side elevation has a brick arcade, connecting the courthouse to the adjacent opera house and municipal office building, which was designed by Edwards and which uses many of the same compositional elements and details. The junction between the two buildings has been filled with further expansion of the courthouse, on two stories.

The Abbeville County Courthouse has a longitudinal hall, defining its main axis; the county offices are located on either side of this hall. A stair is located at either end of the hall. The front stair has paneled newel posts and a sawn balustrade. A dentil cornice enriches the hallway. The courtroom occupies
Abbeville County Courthouse Cornerstone image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, September 10, 2010
7. Abbeville County Courthouse Cornerstone
A.L. 5908
J.L. Michie
A.D. 1908
most of the second story. The three arched windows of the left side elevation are reflected in three blind arches on the right side. Roman Doric pilasters alternate with the arches. A heavy tabernacle frame behind the judge's seat features three stained glass windows; this frame is flanked by pedimented doorways leading from the judge's chambers. The pilasters carry a dentil cornice and the main roof beams; the ceiling itself is acoustical tile. The audience seats are of bent plywood on metal frames.

The courthouse was renovated in 1964 by Lyles, Bissett, Carlisle, and Wolff of Columbia.
    — Submitted November 8, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.

2. National Register of Historic Places:
Abbeville County Courthouse ** (added 1981 - Building - #81000706)
• Also known as See Also: Abbeville Historic District; Abbeville Historic Dist Court Sq., Abbeville
• Historic Significance: Event, Architecture/Engineering
• Architect, builder, or engineer: Minshall, Frederic; Edwards, William Augustus
• Architectural Style: No Style Listed
• Area of Significance: Architecture, Politics/Government
• Period of Significance: 1900-1924
• Owner: Local Gov't
• Historic Function: Government
• Historic Sub-function: Courthouse
John C. Calhoun Painting<br>Located Inside the Courthouse image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, September 10, 2010
8. John C. Calhoun Painting
Located Inside the Courthouse

• Current Function: Government
• Current Sub-function: Courthouse
    — Submitted January 13, 2011.

3. The Five Abbeville Courthouses
...I will now speak of the public buildings of the place, and first of the Court House. I know of no other person, Elijah Wilson excepted, who can say as I now do, that I have seen five court houses. The first one was a wooden frame building standing a little higher up the public square than the subsequent ones. Of this house, I don't recollect much but a few things are fixed in my memory. I recollect that during a summer there was a school kept by a schoolmarm Maria Neddiman.

When another court house was built the material of this wooden house was bought by B.C. Yancey, Esq. and erected into a building on the Blue Hill. It was afterward passed through several hands and was at one time owned and occupied by my teacher, Alpheus Baker.

The second court house was built of brick and was upon the whole a pretty good court house. It would have lasted many years no doubt had the trustees who's superintendence of its construction not been cheated by the contractor. These trustees were men of the place now skilled in architectural knowledge and themselves drafted the plan. When the house had reached the second story window, it became
Abbeville County's Third Courthouse<br>1829-1853 image. Click for full size.
Abbeville County by the Abbeville County Historical Society, circa 1870
9. Abbeville County's Third Courthouse
Said to have been Abbeville's first real courthouse. The building was designed by Robert Mills who was living in Abbeville at the time.
known to them that the workmen instead of using lime mortar according to the contract was using kaolin of which there were several beds in the neighborhood and this substance so nearly resembled line in appearance that the trustees had not detected the fraud played upon them. When they did, they had the wall pulled down, but unfortunately did not go low enough. For after it was built up again and stood for years, the walls bulged out because [they] were too weak to sustain the superstructure and threatened disaster. This rendered it necessary to build another.

The third court house was planned by Robert Mills, an architect of skill and he was then living in abbeville, he superintended its erection. C. Humphries was the contractor. It was built in 1829, perhaps not completed until the next year. It stood as near to the first brick court house as was convenient, a little further down the Square. This was the best built and handsomest court house and in my opinion the best that we have had with one exception that it was too small. It had however a great defect, in digging the foundation, one corner of it passed over where there had formerly been a bully and they did not go deep enough and it resulted in some years in that corner sinking so as to make a crack in the wall to a considerable height. When the court house was condemned by being unsafe on account of the crack, it
Abbeville County's Fifth Courthouse<br>1872-1908 image. Click for full size.
Abbeville County by the Abbeville County Historical Society, circa 1900
10. Abbeville County's Fifth Courthouse
was decided to build another...After this another, the fourth court house was built which was the one burnt about 1872 in one of our disastrous fires and with it most of the books and public records in the Clerk's office.

The fifth court house thus rendered necessary was erected I believe on the same foundation as the fourth and is still in use [1886]. Of these last two I cannot speak with satisfaction as to the details which have escaped my recollection, why I cannot say as I have resided here all the time. I know that neither of them displayed any architectural beauty and that the last serves its purpose pretty well.

(Source: Old Abbeville: Scenes of the Past of a Town Where Old Times are not Forgotten by Lowry Ware (1992), recollection of Robert Henry Wardlaw, pgs 13-14.)
    — Submitted October 14, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.

4. Courthouses in South Carolina Designed by William Augustus Edwards
William A. Edwards was born 8 December 1866 in Darlington, South Carolina. He was educated at St. David's Academy, Richmond College, and the University of South Carolina. After graduation in 1885 he moved to Virginia where he eventually formed a partnership with another Darlington County native, Charles Coker Wilson. The firm moved from
Historic Postcard<br>Abbeville County Courthouse<br>and City Hall/Opera House image. Click for full size.
Abbeville County by Abbeville County Historical Society, circa 1900
11. Historic Postcard
Abbeville County Courthouse
and City Hall/Opera House
Roanoke, Virginia, to Columbia, South Carolina in 1895. The partnership continued until ca. 1902; however, no buildings designed by the firm have as yet been identified.

Around 1902, Edwards established a firm with Frank C. Walter, a relationship which lasted about six years. The abbeville County Courthouse about this same time. Whether Edwards relocated to Atlanta before or after the dissolution of Edwards and Walter is uncertain, but it is known that he set up a private practice there in 1908. The Dillon County Courthouse, perhaps the finest building in this group, and the Calhoun Courthouses were designed by Edwards alone.

Edwards became a member of the Atlanta chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 1913 and in the following year formed a partnership with William J. Sayward, a relationship which lasted until Edwards' death in 1939. The firm of Edwards and Sayward was quite prolific during its quarter century in existence, designing buildings throughout Georgia and in South Carolina and Florida. Edwards and Sayward designed the York County Courthouse in 1914 and the Jasper County Courthouse in 1915.

Courthouses designed by Edwards, alone or in partnership, in South Carolina:

  • Sumter County Courthouse, Sumter, SC (1907)
  • Abbeville County Courthouse, Abbeville, SC (1908)
  • Lee County Courthouse, Bishopville, SC (1908-09)
  • Dillon County Courthouse, Dillon, SC (1911)
  • Calhoun County Courthouse, St. Matthews, SC (1913)
  • York County Courthouse, York, SC (1914)
  • Jasper County Courthouse, Ridgeland, SC (1915)

    In addition to these courthouses, the following represent his work in other areas:

  • Unitarian Church, Atlanta, Georgia (1914)
  • Withers Building, Winthrop College, Rock Hill, SC (1920s)
  • Currell College, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC (1920s)
  • Administration Building, Library, Science Hall, and Law Building, University of Florida, Gainesville, Fl (1913-25)
  • Exchange bank and Office Building, Tallahassee, Florida (1927)
  • Library, Agnes Scott College, Decatur, Georgia (1930)

    William A. Edwards remained an active architect even in the last years of his life. As late as 1938 he designed the Teachers' College at Georgia State College, and his firm had completed the architectural planning for a Public Works Administration housing project in Atlanta at the time of his death at the age of seventy-two in March 1939. (Source: National Register Multiple Properties Nomination Form, 1981)
        — Submitted December 27, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.

    Categories. Notable Buildings
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