Laurens in Laurens County, South Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
Laurens County / Laurens Historic District
Erected 1985 by Laurens County Historical Society and Laurens County. (Marker Number 30-6.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Notable BuildingsPolitical Subdivisions. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #17 Andrew Johnson series list. A significant historical date for this entry is March 12, 1789.
Location. 34° 29.972′ N, 82° 0.862′ W. Marker is in Laurens, South Carolina, in Laurens County. Marker is on West Laurens Street near Laurel Street. This marker is located on the the North East corner of the courthouse lawn. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Laurens SC 29360, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 10 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Watts Mills' World War II Veterans Memorial (a few steps from this marker); Vietnam War (a few steps from this marker); Laurens County Confederate Monument (within shouting distance of this marker); Korean Conflict (within shouting distance of this marker); Laurens County World Wars I & II Veterans Monument (within shouting distance of this marker); Masonic Lodge #19 / Samuel Saxon (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Laurens County Veterans Monument (about 600 feet away); American Legion Post 25 Veterans Monument (approx. ¼ mile away); A.I. (Gus) Mason Bridge (approx. 0.3 miles away); Watts-Todd-Dunklin House (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Laurens.
Also see . . .
1. Ninety-Six District, South Carolina. (Submitted on October 17, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
2. Laurens County. Historical sketch of Laurens County History provided by the Laurens County website. (Submitted on August 10, 2008, by Ronald Miller of Gray Court, South Carolina.)
3. Wikipedia entry for Laurens County, SC. Laurens County is a county located in the U.S. state of South Carolina. (Submitted on August 10, 2008, by Ronald Miller of Gray Court, South Carolina.)
4. Wikipedia entry for James Adair (Historian). A look at Historian James Adair, a one time resident of Laurens County. (Submitted on August 10, 2008, by Ronald Miller of Gray Court, South Carolina.)
5. Wikipedia entry for Henry Laurens. Laurens was named after the Charleston Statesman Henry Laurens. He had the distinct duty of serving as the President of the second continental congress preceded only by John Hancock. (Submitted on August 10, 2008, by Ronald Miller of Gray Court, South Carolina.)
6. Laurens Historic District. The Laurens Historic District contains 111 contributing properties, most of which were built between 1880 and 1940. (Submitted on September 30, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
7. Laurens County Courthouse. The Laurens County Courthouse represents (Submitted on September 30, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
8. Ann Pamela Cunningham. Ann Pamela Cunningham (August 15, 1816 - May 1, 1875) is credited with saving George Washington's beloved home Mount Vernon from ruin and neglect. (Submitted on October 9, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
9. Andrew Jackson. Andrew Jackson (March 15, 1767 – June 8, 1845) was the seventh President of the United States (1829–1837). (Submitted on October 17, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
10. William Dunlap Simpson. William Dunlap Simpson (October 27, 1823 – December 26, 1890) was Governor of South Carolina from February 26, 1879, when the previous governor, Wade Hampton, resigned to take his seat in the U.S. Senate, until 1880, when Simpson resigned to become Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court. (Submitted on October 9, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
11. Robert Archer Cooper. Robert Archer Cooper (June 12, 1874 – August 7, 1953) was Democratic Governor of South Carolina from January 21, 1919 to May 20, 1922. (Submitted on October 9, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
1. Laurens Historic District
The town of Laurens is the county seat of Laurens County located in the Piedmont region of South Carolina. The Laurens Historic District contains fifteen buildings of particular architectural or historical significance and seventy-five supporting properties. The historic district is centered on the Laurens Public Square, and extends northwards along Caroline Street to Hampton Avenue, and west along Main Street to Moreland Street. Approximately sixty-five percent of the buildings in the Historic District were built prior to 1925. Most of the buildings were built during a period of rapid growth, from about 1880 to 1925, and retain the architectural characteristics of that era. The majority of the buildings have been kept in continuous use since their date of construction and remain in good repair.
Key properties contributing to the character of the historic district:
2. Governor William Dunlap Simpson House, 726 W. Main Street: 1839, two story frame, weatherboarded building with medium gabled roof and pedimented gables, four interior chimneys, two story Greek Revival portico supported by four large fluted Doric columns. The house, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was the home of William Dunlap Simpson, who served as governor of South Carolina between 1879 and 1880.
12. Davis House, 560 W. Main Street: a two story frame, weatherboarded residence, built ca. 1896, in the Queen Anne style. The house features a wraparound porch with decorative turnings and brackets. A turret with a corkscrew finial is on the west elevation. The interior ornamentation includes stained glass, turned balusters, and wainscoting in the Eastlake style.
16. James Dunklin House, 544 W. Main Street: ca. 1812, two story, frame, weatherboarded house with exterior end chimney, medium gabled roof. Windows are nine over nine with louvered shutters. The Dunklin House is one of the oldest in Laurens County and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The house is presently used as a house museum.
19. Todd House, 530 W. Main Street: Victorian residence, built ca.
21. Augustus Huff House, 520 W. Main Street: Victorian residence, built ca. 1890, shows influence of carpenter Gothic style. Two story frame, weatherboarded house with medium gabled roof and two interior chimneys. There is decorative bargeboard trim. Small second story porch has a bellcast mansard roof. Windows are two over two with louvered shutters.
27. Old Methodist Church. 419 W. Main Street: ca. 1852. one story frame. weatherboarded building. medium gable roof, three interior chimneys; front gable has boxed cornice with returns and a centered rectangular louvered vent; windows are six over six with three light overlights and wooden shutters. The northeast elevation has a Charleston porch with shed roof and pilastered door surround with entablature. Epworth Methodist Children's Home in Columbia, South Carolina had its beginnings here.
34. Laurens First Presbyterian Church, Main Street: constructed in 1891, Victorian Gothic Revival,
45. First United Methodist Church, W. Main Street: ca. 1897, one and one-half stories, Romanesque Revival, red brick, complex roofline with cross-gables, four story tower on the east with stained glass windows and a tall pyramidal roof surrounded with pinnacles, large tripartite stained glass windows under a brick arch in the center of the facade and a small tower on the west with semi-circular windows under brick arches at the first level. A brick educational building has been added at the rear. and another large brick building is attached to the church by an arched brick passageway.
47. Episcopal Church of the Epiphany, 225 W. Main Street: one story red brick church with portico supported by four massively constructed primitive Doric columns, massive arched windows flanking the central entrance, frame belfry, twelve over twelve paned windows. The oldest church building in the city of Laurens,
78. Brown Franklin Building, 125 Franklin Street: a three story brick commercial building. built ca. 1890, with decorative brickwork throughout. The first story facade is stuccoed, with three entrance doors alternating with four windows. The building is interlaced with earthquake rods with star-shaped turnbuckles. The second and third floor windows have joined arches with plastered keystones. A cast iron balcony and awning on the second floor are later additions. Brown Franklin was a locally prominent black restaurateur.
86. Laurens County Courthouse, Public Square: ca. 1837-38, additions in 1911 and 1940, masonry construction stuccoed and scored to resemble stone, raised basement, octagonal dome. two Corinthian porticos. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Courthouse continues to be a key focus point of the Laurens Historic District.
101. Mary Whitner House, 225 Caroline Street: ca. 1896, one and one-half story frame, weatherboarded residence with Victorian additions, medium gabled roof has two projecting dormers with imbricated shingles and bargeboard trim, tower on one side of building; constructed by Columbus White, a black contractor who built Bethel A.M.E. and St. Paul Churches.
104. Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, 234
112. Saint Paul First Baptist Church, Corner of Caroline and Hampton Streets: built in 1912, this is a brick church in the Romanesque Revival style, with two asymmetrical towers, the taller one crennelated, and large round-headed windows surmounted by pointed arches. The church was built by Columbus White. Saint Paul First Baptist was the first black Baptist Church in Laurens. It also served as the first public education center for blacks in the county.
Containing some 90 properties, the Laurens Historic District includes the public square with the courthouse and surrounding commercial buildings, and extends to the north
Laurens County, named in honor of South Carolina Revolutionary patriot Henry Laurens, was one of six counties created in 1785 from a division of the old district of Ninety-Six. By 1792 Laurens was the seat of justice for the county. The earliest courthouse is believed to have been built of logs near the site of the present courthouse. An 1800 plat of the area reveals that the land surrounding the courthouse had been divided into lots and sold. A commercial area gradually developed around the courthouse. By 1826 Laurens, often called Laurensville in the antebellum period, had 250 inhabitants and 35 houses. Laurens remained a small village through the first half
With the construction of several railroad lines through the town in the late nineteenth century, however, Laurens, like numerous other South Carolina upcountry towns, experienced a period of rapid economic growth and. development. An improved transportation system made these towns more useful and popular markets for area farmers. A railroad from Laurens to Newberry, which had been constructed in the 1850's but had gone bankrupt, was rebuilt in the 1870's, and two other railroads through Laurens had been completed by 1886. An 1888 business directory of Laurens reported that as a result of the construction of the 1874 railroad, "the town was enthused with new life and as a consequence the log-cabins and wooden structures that were then on the square gradually disappeared, and in their places were erected large commodius and beautiful brick store rooms which now adorn it." The population of Laurens reflected this boom; the population, which was 752 in 1880, rose to 2245 in 1890 and to 4029 in 1900.
In the late nineteenth century,Laurens County was primarily an agricultural county with cotton as the major crop, and the prosperity of the town of Laurens, which was a trading center for the surrounding area, was closely tied to cotton. The acreage in the county planted
The town has experienced later periods of growth. However, more recent development in Laurens has been concentrated in the outlying areas of the town and has not significantly affected the centrally located historic district.
The Laurens Historic District reflects the several stages of architectural growth and development in Laurens. The oldest buildings in the district represent the antebellum agrarian community; the James Dunklin House is typical of the Piedmont farmhouse type. The Greek Revival style is represented in Laurens by the Simpson
The majority of the buildings in the Laurens Historic District date from the affluence of the post-railroad era. The Augustus Huff House and the Todd House belong to the Carpenter-Gothic style. The Queen Anne style is represented by the Davis House. Victorian polychrome Gothic Revival is evident in the Laurens First Presbyterian Church, which makes use of contrasting materials, multiple textures, tall proportions, and Gothic traceried windows for its effect.
The work of Columbus White, a black Laurens contractor, also dates from the late nineteenth century. The Bethel A.M.E. Church and the St. Paul First Baptist Church are both brick interpretations of the Romanesque Revival style. The Mary Whitner House shows Columbus White's work in the Queen Anne style.
The central business district of Laurens developed around the county courthouse in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Brown Franklin Building, one of the oldest and finest of Laurens' commercial buildings, has decorative brickwork with contrasting cement trim. The old Palmetto Bank Building shows the influence of the Italian Renaissance Palazzo in American commercial buildings -- an influence especially prominent in bank buildings. The rusticated
Many buildings in the public square area have plate-glass display windows on the first floor and decorative brickwork with corbelled cornices on the second floor. Other prominent buildings in the Courthouse Square area include the Georgian Revival city hall and the Parker Furniture Building, a brick building with an arcaded frieze and hip roof.
Most of the buildings in the Laurens Historic District are still used for their original purposes and have been kept in good repair. The district has admitted growth but retains integrity as a district. (Source: National Register nomination form.)
— Submitted October 9, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.
2. Laurens Historic District Extension
Although originally lined by antebellum residences (only two of which remain intact) on multi-acre lots, West Main Street experienced two periods of major development, as these tracts were subdivided and the houses replaced or modernized. The first period was from ca. 1885 to ca. 1915 and the second occurred between World Wars. These buildings display a wide range of architectural styles. The area is also characterized by its large
7) Martin-Dial House, 806 West Main Street (pre-l883): Two-story, weatherboarded residence with a hip roof. The house was renovated ca. 1903 in the Georgian revival style. Notable features include the monumental, Pedimented. portico with balcony; Palladian window in the tympanum; denticulated cornice; single story, side porches with Doric columns; and turned balustrades.
9) Wright-Easterby House, 780 West Main Street (ca. 1925): Two-story, stuccoed masonry residence constructed in Spanish colonial revival style. The building, designed by Greenwood, South Carolina, architect James C. Hemphill, is the sale example of this style in Laurens and is notable for its red tile roof, wide eaves with modillions, flat-roof porch with stuccoed pillars, and wrought-iron railing.
10) Balle House, 774 West Main Street (1911): One-and-one-half-story, frame residence built in the Craftsman style. The building has a gable roof and is sheathed in wood shingles. Notable features include an elaborate, gabled dormer with flower box and tripartite window; shed-roof porch with paneled, brick pillars and simple balustrade; and exposed rafters.
19) John Calvin Owings House, 787 West Main Street (ca. 1896): Two half-story, frame residence milt in the Queen Anne style. The muse has a slate roof with cresting and is
26) Gelder-Roper House, 831 West Main Street (ca. 1917): One story, gambrel-roof residence with wrap around porch and porte-cochere supported by brick pillars. The house is sheathed in brick veneer on the first story and in wood shingles on the upper story. A long, shed-roof dormer with paired and tripartite windows dominates the facade. Most windows have twelve-aver-one lights.
The Laurens Historic District Extension expands the ability of the Laurens Historic District to convey visually the residential development of the city of Laurens. Architecturally this area is significant for its well-preserved residences, dating from the late nineteenth century to World War II, which represent numerous architectural styles popular during this period.
On an 1845 plat of the town of Laurens, the first two blocks of West Main Street are identified as Republican Street. At its intersection with what is now Church Street, the road became the "Old Greenville Road," a name which appears on many nineteenth century deeds. By 1883 the entire
Throughout its existence, West Main Street has been a prominent address in Laurens, and many of the city's most
The district contains several residences constructed during the period 1936-39. These properties qualify as exclusions to the fifty-year criterion because they are integral parts of the natural development of the neighborhood, which came to a halt with the advent of World War II. (Source: National Register nomination form.)
— Submitted October 10, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.
3. Laurens County Courthouse
Designed by architect Thomas C. Veal and built by Dr. John Wells Simpson, residents of Laurens, the central portion of the Laurens County Courthouse was constructed in 1837-38. Primary construction materials were granite ashlar and brick. The original projecting porticoes in the front (NW) and rear (SE) have four Corinthian columns and two simple pilasters supporting entablatures consisting of boxed cornices, modillions, dentils, and simple medallions upon the frieze. In 19ll carved granite
The initial construction involved a simple cruciform plan with a low gabled roof. In the center of each gable is a circular louvre. The roof line is emphasized by boxed cornices with heavy dentil work. The motif of returning cornices in the gables is accented on the front (NW) and rear (SE) facades by eight triangular pediments supported by consoles over pairs of sash windows with mullions. The original second story pairs of windows with mullions, which were triple hung sash (4/4/4) windows, were replaced in 1911 by shorter single light over single light sash windows with transom bar and transom extending over each pair. The front and rear entrances are framed by paneled pilasters carrying an entablature. Over each set of double doors is a transom with vertical and diagonal mullions.
The original plan called for wings to the northeast and southwest which were added in 1858. The parapets of the wings incorporate&the portico entablature design of dentils over simple medallion The original wings form the central portion of the present wings. The original northeastern and southwestern facades, covered by additions in 1911 each contained one
Accenting the horizontal roof line were granite shelves supported by consoles over each window. The northwestern and southeastern facades of the 1858 wings are still visible. Four Tuscan pilasters support the entablature and separate three mullion windows, which were initially like other second story windows. Originally a long shelf extended over all three pairs of windows, again accenting the horizontal roof line of the wings. String course separating the first and second stories was continued in the 1858 additions and contained pairs of triglyphs with guttae at regular intervals and pedimented shelves supported by consoles over two first floor entrances. Transoms with vertical and diagonal mullions repeated over these doorways.
In 1911 further additions were made to the wings, the windows remodeled, and the Palladian stairways added. Also at this time the low elliptical dome was constructed. In 1940, although no noticeable exterior alterations were made, remodeling and repairs were performed as a W.P.A. project. A new roof with skylights and interior steel supports was added and office rearrangements made.
Laurens County is one of several counties carved out of the Old-Ninety-Six District of South Carolina by an act of The General Assembly in 1785. The Courthouse stands on a portion
The Laurens County Courthouse represents an excellent example of Greek revival architecture in rural South Carolina/ The massiveness and the decorative elements attest to the affluence of pre-Civil War South Carolina. The Courthouse is the focal point of a town that is historically important but where visual history has been neglected until recently. The Courthouse is an important part of Laurens County's current revitalization project for the town square and businesses of Laurens. There is a great deal of interest in this project with its concern for good urban planning coupled with proper attention to historic preservation. Considerable matching funds are available, and since it is hoped that the restoration will follow approved restoration techniques, National Register status is essential. (Source: National Register nomination form.)
— Submitted October 8, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.
Credits. This page was last revised on September 18, 2020. It was originally submitted on August 10, 2008, by Ronald Miller of Gray Court, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 6,563 times since then and 37 times this year. Last updated on August 11, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. Photos: 1. submitted on August 10, 2008, by Ronald Miller of Gray Court, South Carolina. 2. submitted on August 12, 2008, by Ronald Miller of Gray Court, South Carolina. 3, 4. submitted on October 8, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. 5. submitted on August 10, 2008, by Ronald Miller of Gray Court, South Carolina. 6. submitted on October 8, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. 7. submitted on November 29, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. 8, 9. submitted on August 10, 2008, by Ronald Miller of Gray Court, South Carolina. 10, 11, 12. submitted on September 30, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. 13. submitted on October 9, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. 14, 15, 16. submitted on October 17, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. 17, 18. submitted on October 9, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. 19. submitted on October 17, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. 20. submitted on October 9, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. 21. submitted on October 17, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. 22. submitted on October 4, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. 23. submitted on October 5, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. 24, 25. submitted on October 17, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. 26, 27. submitted on October 9, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.