SC State House – Columbia, South Carolina
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South Carolina’s first State House was located in Charleston on the corner of Broad and Meeting streets. However, as settlements grew further inland, a number of South Carolinians wanted to move the State House to a more central location.
A compromise was reached in 1786 when Colonel Thomas Taylor donated some of his land along the Congaree River for the new capital city. The new city was named Columbia, and the State House was built on a hill that was one of the most prominent points in the area.
Though the project began in 1851, it took 56 years to complete, and the cost exceeded $3,450,000. The Civil War, along with corruption, lack of funds, and political bickering, interrupted the construction on several occasions. It was finally completed in 1907 by Hartsville native Charles Coker Wilson.
The building weighs more than 70,000 tons and is constructed of native blue granite, most of which came from a quarry two miles from the site.
There are several state office buildings near the South Carolina State House that comprise the downtown pedestrian complex including the Wade Hampton Building which has served residents since the 1940s. There are also more contemporary structures such as the Blatt Building, the Gressette Building, the Rempert Dennis Building, and the Edgar A. Brown Building which were added in the 1970s and 1980s when Senate Street was removed in this area to create the walking-only government grounds.
The SC Statehouse is listed in the National Register, which adds the following:
An example of Neo-Classical architecture, the South Carolina Statehouse is a three-story, domed edifice of granite, marble, brick and iron. Vienna-born architect John Niernsee began the structure in 1851, but the Civil War and post-war poverty slowed progress on the building. For unknown reasons, the building was spared in General W. T. Sherman’s 1865 burning of Columbia, though the structure did suffer damage from shelling and burning of the nearby old statehouse. Following the Civil War, between 1869 and 1874, the only state legislature in American history with an African American majority sat here.
In 1876, the Democrats, lead by Wade Hampton conducted the “Red Shirt” campaign against Daniel H. Chamberlain and the Republicans. Both sides claimed victory and two speakers and two Houses began conducting deliberations in the same hall. On April 10, 1877, fulfilling part of the compromise that had allowed his inauguration, President Rutherford B. Hayes withdrew Federal troops. The following day Hampton and his supporters assumed full control of state government. From 1888 to 1891, Niernsee’s son, Frank McHenry Niernsee, served as architect and much of the interior work was completed. In 1900 Frank Milburn served briefly as architect, but was replaced in 1905 by Charles Coker Wilson who finally finished the exterior in 1907.
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SC State House Info
Address: 1100 Gervais Street, Columbia, SC
SC State House Map
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