Abbeville in Abbeville County, South Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
Thomas Chiles Perrin House
The Greek Revival residence of Thomas Chiles Perrin (1805-1878), prominent Abbeville District lawyer, planter, businessman, and politician, stood here from 1858 until it burned in 1877. When completed the house was described as "one of the finest and most commodious mansions in the State." Perrin served as mayor, state representative and senator, and for many years as president of the Greenville & Columbia RR.
In December 1860, as chair of the Abbeville District delegation to the Secession Convention, Perrin was the first signer of the Ordinance of Secession. As the Confederacy collapsed in May 1865 President Jefferson Davis and his Cabinet held their last council of war across the street at the Burt-Stark Mansion. Thomas and Jane Eliza Perrin hosted most of the Cabinet here during its brief stay in Abbeville.
Erected 1997 by Abbeville County Historic Preservation Commission. (Marker Number 1-10.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the South Carolina, Abbeville County Historical Society/Commission marker series.
Location. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Abbeville SC 29620, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 10 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Abbeville's Confederate Colonels (here, next to this marker); Burt-Stark House / Jefferson Davis’s Flight (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Last Cabinet Meeting Marker (about 800 feet away); The Bundy-Barksdale-McGowan House (was approx. 0.2 miles away but has been reported missing. ); McGowan-Barksdale-Bundy House (approx. 0.2 miles away); Maj. Thomas D. Howie (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Old Livery Stable (approx. 0.3 miles away); Trinity Episcopal Church (approx. 0.3 miles away); Major Thomas Dry Howie (approx. 0.4 miles away); Clarence E. Pressley (approx. 0.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Abbeville.
Also see . . .
1. Descendants of Thomas Chiles Perrin. (Submitted on August 17, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
2. South Carolina Ordinance of Secession. An ordinance to dissolve the union between the State of South Carolina and other States united with her under the compact entitled “The Constitution of the (Submitted on August 22, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
3. The Greenville & Columbia Railroad. The rails connecting Greenville and Columbia (in the late 1800s) actually consisted of two companies. (Submitted on December 26, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
4. A Portrait of Generational Law School Success: The Perrin Family. For years, School of Law students, faculty and visitors have admired the large Perrin family portrait in the Coleman Karesh Law Library. (Submitted on December 26, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
1. Thomas Chiles Perrin
Thomas Chiles Perrin was born October 1, 1805. He received his academic education at Union Academy, in the Hard Labor section of Abbeville County. He entered the South Carolina College in 1824, and was graduated therefrom in 1827. He came immediately to Abbeville Court House, and prosecuted the study of the law in the office of Governor Patrick Noble, and (afterwards) Judge D.L. Wardlaw. On May 8,1828, he was admitted to the Bar. The law firm of Noble & Wardlaw was dissolved, and D.L. Wardlaw and T.C. Perrin then formed a partnership which continued until the promotion of Mr. Wardlaw to the Bench
He was elected a delegate from Abbeville to the State Convention in 1850, and again to that of 1860—the Secession Convention—when he was chairman of the Abbeville delegation, and therefore was the first signer, after the official signature of President D.F. Jamison, of the Ordinance of Secession. In the election of delegates to the Convention of 1866, he refused to allow his name to be used. In 1868 he was nominated for Lieutenant Governor on the ticket with the Hon. W.D. Porter, of Charleston, for Governor.
In 1830. January 19th, Mr. Perrin was married to Jane Eliza Wardlaw, daughter of James Wardlaw — who was about fifty years Clerk of the Court for Abbeville County — and to them were born thirteen children.
In 1853, Mr. Perrin was elected President of the Greenville and Columbia Railroad Company, and reelected each year till 1866, when he resumed the practice of the law in partnership with J.S. Cothran, Esq., subsequent Judge.
Mr. Perrin was, at one time, and for many years, President of the Abbeville District Bible Society — also
Mr. Perrin, zealous in good works, was also Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church.
He was, further, for about thirty years, an Elder in the Presbyterian Church — first in Upper Long Cane Church and afterwards in Abbeville Church.
His useful life came to a quick close. On the morning of May 14th, 1878, he was suddenly stricken down. On the day before he was in his usual health. He attended a meeting of the Deacon's court of the Church at Abbeville on the evening before, and retired without complaint about ten o'clock. After 12 o'clock he was attacked with palpitation of the heart, and died before the Doctor reached him.
One Confederate episode of no little interest is connected with his house in 1865.
Messrs. Benjamin, Breckenridge and Reagan, of President Jefferson Davis's Cabinet, were entertained at his house during their stay in Abbeville, as they were retreating through the country after the disruption of the Southern Confederacy. In the library of Mr. Perrin's dwelling, Gen. Breckenridge, the Confederate Secretary of War, had his last office, and gave numerous discharges to soldiers, and finally signed the order disbanding the commands of Generals
Appointed in 1862 to fill the vacancy created by the death in battle of Col. John H. Means, Mr. Perrin's term of service as member of the Board of Visitors of the Military Academies did not last long — being about two and one-half years. He served, however, long enough to furnish ample illustration of the qualities that distinguished him in all of his business relations—good sense, excellent judgment, integrity, and conscientiousness in the discharge of duty. A good, true, able man, he was a sound citizen. When he withdrew from the Board of Visitors, it suffered a distinct loss, one not easily to be repaired.
Abbeville, rich in great names, was made still more opulent in such wealth when Thomas Chiles Perrin made his contribution to her glory. (Source: The History of the South Carolina Military Academy, with Appendixes by John Peyre Thomas (1893), pp 189-191.)
— Submitted April 27, 2011, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.
2. “Beautiful Mansion” – A Description of the Perrin House
September 24, 1858
We had the pleasure a few days since of visiting, in company with the architect,
A broad flight of steps, in front, extends from the ground to the portico, which is supported by fluted columns, and leads into an airy and commodious entry, which is decorated overhead with a beautiful ceiling of stucco work. Upon the right, opening into this entry, are two spacious drawing rooms, separated by sliding doors; these are richly ornamented with stucco work, and with beautiful mantle pieces of Italian marble, and are provided with glass doors opening upon the portico. On the left of the entry are the parlor and dining room, separated also by sliding doors. Attached to the dining room is a speaking trumpet connected with the kitchen; and adjoining is a well appointed serving room, provided with pipes of hot and cold water, suitable cupboards and other conveniences. Upon this floor is
A wide stairway with a beautiful railing of mahogany leads to the upper story. This contains six or several large and airy chambers, each with a dressing room attached. In this story is also a bathing room; and porticos in front and in the rear add much to the comfort and convenience of its arrangements.
From this story a stairway leads to the attic, where is kept the reservoir of water from which the various pipes are supplied; and thence to the observatory on the top of the building. This is a glass frame-work, of octagonal shape, opening upon the flat tin roof, and commands a fine view of the surrounding country.
The basement story is of brick, and contains sleeping apartments, storerooms, and other rooms appropriating to various purposes; and is very commodious and well arranged
The whole building reflects great credit upon the taste and liberality of the proprietor and the skill of the architect, Mr. Cownover. The stucco work is a beautiful specimen of art, from the hands of Mr. Daly, who to the skill of the artist adds that of an accomplished architect. The painting was executed by Messrs. Corbett and Ard; and the various doors and wainscoting exhibit some excellent specimens of groining and marbling.
The building throughout, in each passage and room, is lighted with gas; and nearby is the house containing the furnace for its manufacture, and the spacious gasometer for its reception.
— Submitted September 10, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.
3. Perrin House Burned
Press & Banner
February 14, 1877
This ornament and pride of the village, surrounded by the most suburb gardens of choice evergreen and trained shrubbery to be found anywhere in the State was consumed by fire…Mr. Perrin commenced to insure his house before it was finished and since then has paid the insurance premium regularly for twenty years until last Wednesday at 12 o’clock when he allowed it to expire…It seems the fire originated from a spark in the roof, the shingles being dry and the wind blowing a stiff breeze.
— Submitted September 10, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.
4. Law Range
During the pre-Civil war years, many young attorneys in Abbeville practiced law on Law Range, including John C. Calhoun, Armistad Burt, Samuel McGowan, James M. Perrin, and Thomas Chiles Perrin.
— Submitted August 22, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.
5. Marker Style
The marker shown reflects the third style of South Carolina Historical Markers. It is currently in use and has been since 1996. The original design was cast aluminum and crowned with a bas relief of the state flag surrounded by an inverted triangle. The markers were painted silver with black lettering.
— Submitted September 16, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.
Categories. • Antebellum South, US • Notable Buildings • Politics • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on July 20, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 2,880 times since then and 15 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on July 20, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. 4. submitted on April 27, 2011, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. 5. submitted on July 20, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. 6, 7, 8. submitted on December 26, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.