South Carolina has a history that meanders through Colonial times, the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, and each of those eras left structures behind.
Some have been tended to and restored, some sit in ruins. But all reflect hundreds of years worth of history in the Palmetto State.
The State House was built from 1855 to 1907 primarily with the official state stone (blue granite). The building is open for tours.
Also in Columbia, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral and the Gervais Street Bridge offer architectural interest. The church was designed in 1840 by Edward Brickell White. The English Gothic Revival style was modeled after Yorkmister Cathedral in England, and escaped burning by Sherman’s troops in 1865.
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The Gervais Street Bridge was built in 1926 and represents an early use of reinforced concrete for bridge construction in South Carolina. Its cast iron pedestals and lamps were designed by the United States Treasury Department and features the palmetto and crescent design from the state flag.
These are places you’ve probably seen many times. But here are a few others that may not be on the road you most travel, but are worth a day trip:
You can’t talk about architecture in South Carolina without starting with Robert Mills.
The Palmetto State native designed the Washington Monument, and many of the buildings he designed around the state are still standing today. This includes courthouses, churches and jails.
Mills, the first architect born and trained in the United States, was born in Charleston in 1781. Here are five Robert Mills-designed buildings in South Carolina:
▪ Robert Mills House (1616 Blanding St., .9 miles, 4 minutes), one of the few private residences Mills designed. He was hired in 1823 by Columbia merchant Ainsley Hall and his wife, Sarah, to design the classical revival house.
▪ Bethesda Presbyterian Church (502 DeKalb St., Camden. 34 miles, 43 minutes). Built in 1822, Bethesda Presbyterian’s sanctuary is one of the few surviving churches in South Carolina designed by Mills. It sits near the center of downtown Camden.
▪ The Fireproof Building (100 Meeting St., Charleston. 115 miles, 2 hours). Built in 1822, the County Records Building is believed to be the first fireproof building in the country built specifically to protect documents. The two-story masonry building is set on a tall stone foundation, with brick that has been stuccoed to make it look like stone. It is built in the Palladian style, with Doric porticoes.
▪ The Colleton County Courthouse (101 Hampton St., Walterboro. 92 miles, 1 hour, 35 minutes) Completed in 1820, it’s an example of Greek Revival architecture. The brick building is stuccoed to represent stone, with four Tuscan columns. Two large wings were added in 1939.
▪ Yorkville Jail (3 South Congress St., York. 84 miles, 1 hour, 30 minutes) The three-story building attributed was originally designed and built in 1828 as a local jail in York County. The building features classic Mills’ characteristics, including brick arches, a semicircular fanlight and attention to proportion and symmetry.
Sheldon Church Ruins
919 Old Sheldon Church Road, Yemassee. 116 miles, 1 hour, 53 minutes
Once known as Prince William’s Parish Church, erected 1745-1755, it was one of the first Greek-Revival structures built in the United States. The once impressive structure with a gable roof and pediment windows, has been in ruin for more than 120 years. The church was burned during the Revolutionary War, rebuilt in 1826, and burned by Sherman’s troops in 1865.
The Moorish-style castle at Huntington Beach State Park was a vacation home of Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington, built between 1931 and 1933.
Archer Huntington was a philanthropist from New York City and designed the house to be a winter residence for him and his wife. He designed the plans himself based on Spanish or Moorish architecture coupled with his own imagination. Anna Huntington, an artist and sculptor, designed the wrought iron grills that serve as hurricane protection on all the windows.
The castle has 30 rooms around three sides of a courtyard. In the center, surrounded by native plants, is a water tower that is 40 feet tall after which the house was named.
Park entry $5 adult, $3 age 6-15. Admission to the grounds of the house is $2 per person, ages 6 and older. The park is open from 6 a.m.-6 p.m. daily; Atalaya is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Old City Market
188 Meeting Street, Charleston. 115 miles, 1 hours, 59 minutes.
This is definitely not an unknown spot. In fact, it’s one of the most frequented spots visited by tourists who shop for everything from sweetgrass baskets to jewelry, artwork clothing and souvenirs. But few take the time to look at the building that has been a hub of activity in Charleston for 200 years.
Suber’s Corn Mill
2002 Suber Mill Road, Greer. 108 miles, 1 hour, 46 minutes. www.scmills.com/subers.php
This operating grist mill in Greer sits on the slope of a hardwoods-covered hill. Water from a holding pond pours down a wooden chute and spills onto the paddles of a large wheel, keeping it in a steady spin. Driven by a wheel, gears, pulleys and shafts turn slowly inside the building. Shelled corn is fed into a chute on top and gravity sends it tumbling to the crushing millstones below. One floor down, the fine white powder emerges where it is bagged and stacked for sale. This mill, built circa 1908, still grinds corn using water power.
The mill is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday
Campbell’s Covered Bridge
171 Campbell’s Covered Bridge Road, Landrum. 120 miles, 1 hour, 55 minutes. www.greenvillerec.com/parks/campbells-covered-bridge.
The bridge was built in 1909, spanning Beaverdam Creek with its 38-foot long, 12-foot wide pine structure. It’s the only remaining covered bridge in South Carolina.
About this series
This is the 10th in a series about road trips within South Carolina. Throughout the summer, GoColumbia will explore some of the state's lesser-known attractions. Travel distances and times are calculated from the S.C. State House. Previous installments include places every South Carolinian should visit at least once, a ghost tour of the state, our most remote beaches and some weird attractions. Find them at www.gocolumbia.com.
Do you know of some “undiscovered” spots in South Carolina that could make for a fun day trip? Please share! Tweet any suggestions you have to @gocolumbiasc.