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South Carolina State House facts for kids

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South Carolina State House
SC State House at evening.jpg
The South Carolina State House
Location 1100 Gervais St., Columbia, South Carolina
Built 1855; 166 years ago (1855)
Architect John R. Niernsee; Et al.
Architectural style Classical Revival
NRHP reference No. 70000598
Quick facts for kids
Significant dates
Added to NRHP June 5, 1970; 50 years ago (1970-06-05)
Designated NHL May 11, 1976; 44 years ago (1976-05-11)

The South Carolina State House is the building housing the government of the U.S. state of South Carolina, which includes the South Carolina General Assembly and the offices of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina. Located in the capital city of Columbia near the corner of Gervais and Assembly Streets, the building also housed the Supreme Court until 1971.

The State House is in the Classical Revival style; it is approximately 180 feet (55 m) tall, 300 feet (91 m) long, 100 feet (30 m) wide. It weighs more than 70,000 short tons (64,000 t) and has 130,673 square feet (12,140 m2) of space.

Old Carolina State House

The old State House was constructed between 1786 and 1790. This man James Hoban, a young Irishman who emigrated to Charleston shortly after the Revolution, was the architect. Upon the recommendation of Henry Laurens, President Washington engaged him to design the executive mansion in Washington. Old pictures of the two buildings show architectural similarities.

The Old State House was destroyed during the burning of Columbia in 1865.

Historic photos

Architecture

Bronze star on SC State House
Example of one of the six bronze stars, marking the spots hit by Sherman's cannons
South Carolina State House Dome, August 2016
View of inside the dome inside the main lobby
South Carolina Statehouse underground facility
Statehouse underground facility

The South Carolina State House was designed first by architect P. H. Hammarskold. Construction began in 1851, but the original architect was dismissed for fraud and dereliction of duty. Soon thereafter, the structure was largely dismantled because of defective materials and workmanship. John Niernsee redesigned the structure and work began on it in 1855, slowed during the Civil War, and was suspended in 1865 as General W.T. Sherman's U.S. Army entered Columbia on February 17. Several public buildings were "put to the torch" when United States troops entered the city.

The new capitol building, still under construction, was damaged by artillery shells. The old capitol building was set afire by U.S. Army troops under Sherman's command.

Reconstruction-era poverty slowed progress. The building's main structure was finally completed in 1875. From 1888 to 1891, Niernsee's son, Frank McHenry Niernsee, served as architect and much of the interior work was completed. In 1900 Frank Pierce Milburn began as architect, but was replaced in 1905 by Charles Coker Wilson who finally finished the exterior in 1907. Additional renovations were made in 1959 and 1998.

The State House was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976 for its significance in the post-Civil War Reconstruction Era.

Grounds

See also: Modern display of the Confederate battle flag#Display at the South Carolina State Capitol
South Carolina State House
South Carolina State House from the 15th floor of the Main and Gervais Tower.
Columbia, SC Capitol grounds (Southside)
Statehouse grounds from the South

The building's grounds are home to several monuments. On the north side, leading to the main entry, is the Confederate Monument which included a flagpole flying a traditional version of the Confederate battle flag until it was removed on July 10, 2015 by State Bill. The monument was established after a controversy during the state's 2000 presidential primary about the Confederate flag flying over the dome of the State House. The flag was originally placed over the dome in 1962 by a concurrent resolution of the state legislature during the commemoration of the Civil War centennial. The resolution failed to designate a time for its removal. The flag was moved near the monument on July 1, 2000, after passage of the South Carolina Heritage Act of 2000. It was then removed from the grounds on July 10, 2015, by order of Republican governor Nikki Haley, and given to the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room & Military Museum.

On the east side is the African-American History Monument, authorized by Act 457 of the General Assembly and unveiled on March 26, 2001.

SC State House from south
The State House viewed from the south.

The grounds also include the following monuments:

  • Washington statue at the Virginia State Capitol).
  • President George Washington: bronze replica cast in 1857, purchased by South Carolina in 1857; replica of Jean-Antoine Houdon's
  • Revolutionary War Generals (dedicated 1913): monument sculpted by Frederic W. Ruckstull and commissioned by the South Carolina chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution; honors Andrew Pickens, Thomas Sumter and Francis Marion.
  • Palmetto Regiment - the Legislature appropriate funds for this monument, created by Christopher Werner, in 1856; it is a cast iron and copper palmetto.
  • Wade Hampton III - this 16-foot bronze equestrian statue of Hampton, a Confederate general and later South Carolina governor and U.S. Senator, was unveiled in November 1906. It was modeled by Frederick Ruckstull.
  • South Carolina Soldiers Monument - A Confederate memorial was erected in 1879, and was unveiled before a crowd of 15,000. The monument was largely destroyed by lightning in 1882, but was replaced by the state two years later.
  • Monument to South Carolina Women of the Confederacy - a bronze Confederate monument, by Frederic W. Ruckstull, erected in 1912.
  • James F. Byrnes - a monument to this longtime South Carolina politician was erected in 1972 after a private fundraising effort.
  • Strom Thurmond - in the late 1990s, the state erected this statute in honor of the former South Carolina governor, U.S. senator, and Dixiecrat candidate for president. The original inscription of the names of Thurmond's children were later altered to include the name of Essie Mae Washington-Williams, the daughter of Thurmond and an African American maid.
  • Benjamin Tillman (dedicated 1940) - U.S. Senator; this monument is controversial due to Tillman's virulent racism, support for Jim Crow, and advocacy of terrorizing blacks who attempted to vote during Reconstruction. In 2017, protestors called for its removal.
  • Dr. J. Marion Sims - This monument to Sims, a South Carolina physician and pioneer in gynecology, is located on State House grounds near the intersection of Assembly and Gervais streets. This monument is controversial because Sims engaged in surgical experimentation on enslaved women without anesthesia.
  • Law Enforcement Memorial - erected in 2005, this memorial honors South Carolina law enforcement officers killed while on duty.

Captain Swanson Lunsford (d. 1799), a Virginia-born American Revolutionary War officer who once owned land that is now part of the State House, is buried on State House grounds, along with a marker erected by his descendants in 1953.

Statehouse grounds gallery

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