Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Creating the South Carolina State House

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Creating the South Carolina State House

Article excerpt

Creating the South Carolina State House. By John M. Bryan. (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, c. 1999. Pp. xviii, 203. $39.95, ISBN 1-57003-291-2.)

The renovation of South Carolina's State House in Columbia between 1995 and 1998 provided the impetus for John Bryan's detailed and beautifully illustrated account of the history of the building. The author, a professor of art history at the University of South Carolina, is widely known for his work on Robert Mills and on the creation of the campus of South Carolina College in the early nineteenth century.

The present State House, built to replace the dilapidated capitol of 1789, owes its construction to Governor John L. Manning, who championed the project in his address to the legislature in 1853. He envisioned a new edifice to symbolize the increasing unity of the white society built on the prosperity of the Palmetto State's agriculture in the 1850s. After an abortive beginning by Swedish architect Peter Hammarskold, John R. Niernsee of Baltimore became the consulting architect and George E. Walker of Charleston became the resident architect. Manning was determined that Niernsee become the creator of the new structure, but Walker mounted a defensive action against the governor. Niernsee finally replaced Walker in 1856, when he moved to Columbia and reorganized the work. The exterior walls were nearly complete, and the stone for future work was stored on the site, at the outbreak of the Civil War. Niernsee returned to Baltimore when his plans, and much of the stone, were destroyed in the burning of Columbia in 1865. …

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