Friday, August 19, 2011

10-28 Haunted Walking Tour!!!!!

I can't's the haunted walking tour of downtown Lancaster with Storyteller Rick Elliot.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Downtown Lancaster Walking Tour

A Detailed Description of the Sites Compiled by Jo Williams

1. Lancaster County Courthouse, 1828. The first courthouse on this site was a one-story log building which was constructed in 1795. It was replaced in 1801 by a two-story frame courthouse, 26 by 40 feet. The present building was designed by Robert Mills, famous S.C. architect who later designed the Washington Monument and other national buildings. While the courthouse design is more Palladian than classic, the portico is more in the Roman revival tradition. Built of flemish-bond brick, an estimated 300,000 slave-made bricks were used for construction by contractor Alsobrook. This National Landmark building has been used for a hall of justice for Lancaster County since 1828. Possibly the last trial for witchcraft in America was held on these grounds in 1813. The main courtroom was restored in 1979. The Confederate monument in front of the courthouse was dedicated June 4, 1909 with thousands attending. It is made of Stonesboro granite from Lancaster County. The Confederate soldier on the monument is Captain Amos McManus of Lancaster County.

2. The building at the corner of West Dunlap and Main was built around 1875. This building of yellow brick once housed the Dunlap House, The Cunningham Home Hotel, and until the late 1930's Dr. J. D. Pittman had a hospital on the second floor. The Hall of Fame is located on the Dunlap Street Wall.

3. 114 South Main was constructed around 1888-1889 and housed the first Bank of Lancaster office. Colonel Leroy Springs began his banking ownership in this building, which also included the offices of the L & C Railroad and the Leroy Springs Cotton Company. This location is a two-story commercial-styled building of red stretcher bond brick with Federal influence.

4. The 1910 two-story building located at the northwest corner of Main and Gay Streets is of brown stretcher bond brick. The second story facade is of particular interest because of a bracket pediment. For many years the first story housed a drug store known first as the Lancaster Pharmacy and later as the J. F. Mackey Drug Company.

5. First Methodist Church Gay Street was organized in 1839 with 23 members. This was the first church in the town of Lancaster. The first building was a small frame structure erected in 1833. Since its establishment, two brick buildings on the location have been destroyed by fire. The present building was erected in 1950.

6. Old Lancaster County Jail on West Gay Street. The jail was built in 1823 and was designed by Robert Mills. It features hand-hewn stones and is of Palladian style architecture. In 1865 it was darmged by fire when Union soldiers threw turpentine soaked balls of cotton on the roof. Stocks and whipping posts were used here until 1830. Scaffolds were erected on jail grounds as needed for hangings. The building was used as a county jail until 1979. This oldest building in Lancaster County has been restored for county and state offices. It is a National Landmark building.

7. Former African Methodist Episcopal Church is on the corner of Gay and Plyler Streets. It was the first A.M.E. Zion church in Lancaster. It was organized in 1870 by Bishop Isom Clinton, former treasurer of Lancaster County and the founder of 130 A.M.E. Zion churches.

8. Old Presbyterian Church and Cemetery. This first brick church in Lancaster County was erected in 1862. It replaced a wood structure built in 1835 on land purchased from Eliza Gill. The building is in early Gothic style architecture and has 16-inch thick walls of plaster that are marked to resemble stone. During the War Between the States, Sherman's soldiers stabled their horses inside the church. After the Presbyterian congregation built a church on Main Street in 1926, the building was used by various groups until it was sold to the Masonic Lodge. In 1976, ownership was transferred to the Lancaster County Society for Historic Preservation. This building is on the National Register of Historic Places. Many of Lancaster's early community leaders are buried in the graveyard adjoining the church. Veterans of five wars are also buried here.

9. Springs House, West Gay and Catawba Streets. This home was the birthplace of the late Col. Elliott White Springs, son of Col. Leroy Springs, who founded Lancaster Cotton Mills. Now known as Springs Industries, it is the largest industry in the county. The home was bought from the Springs family in 1957 by the City of Lancaster for use as a City Hall. It now houses the Lancaster County Council of Arts and the Springs Foundation. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

10. Lancaster City Hall was completed in January of 2000. It houses offices for the City of Lancaster and the City Council Meeting Room.

11. Old United States Post office was constructed in 1927. It is two stories high in the front and one story in the rear section. It is built of yellow common brick. It was originally the home site of Dr. Bartlett Jones. Dr. Jones' daughter Theresa married world-famous surgeon Dr. J. Marion Sims, who was born and raised in Lancaster County near Heath Springs.

12. Mural and Sculpture Park, South Main and East Arch streets. The park was established in 1976 as a U. S. Bicentennial project. The mural pictures Lancaster natives selected by the project director, muralist Ralph Waldrop. Lancaster natives volunteered to help with the mural. The park was the home site of Daniel Washington Brown. In February of 1865, Union General Judson Kilpatrick made his headquarters here while occupying Lancaster during the War Between the States.

13. 200 Block of East Main is known as the Springs Block because of the large imposing structure built by Col. Leroy Springs in 1905. Built of red stretcher and common bond brick, this building has housed many of Lancaster's leading businesses. From this building, Leroy Springs and then Elliott White Springs would direct the operation of the cotton mills and other family interests which would mean so much to the economic well-being of Lancaster County. At the corner of Main and east Arch prior to a major fire in the late 1930's were the old Lancaster Mercantile Company and the Hotel Royal. A mural of the pre-1909 Springs Block is at the front of the building, which now houses The Kanawha Insurance Company. Note also the plaque located in the middle of the block.

14. 206 South Main Street formerly housed the old Farmers Bank and Trust Company. Built around 1915, this Greek revival building is two and one-half stories high. It is faced with Indiana limestone in a classical manner. It has been restored and is now a law office.

15. 207 Main Street was built in 1880 and remodeled in 1920. It was among the first of the "Main Street Program Restorations" in the 1980's.

16. The Bank of Lancaster building was originally constructed on the Dr. J. F Mackey home site in 1907. It is two stories and is built of red stretcher bond brick with second floor double-hung windows. The roof is low and rounded with a flemish ogee gable centered in a parapet. It is often called the Opera House because the second floor was used for plays, concerts, and dances. Later the second floor served as the armory for the Lancaster National Guard. Lancaster' s oldest banking institution, the Bank of Lancaster, also occupied the building. The marble teller counter probably dates back to the 1920’s.

17. 203 South Main was the location of the T.M. Firzpatrick Mercantile Building. The original building was constructed in 1875. It had 14 chimneys and fireplaces built into the second floor walls. Unfortunately the building was destroyed by fire in the late 1990's.

18. Moore Building, Northeast corner of Main and East Gay. This is perhaps the oldest commercial building located in downtown Lancaster. Possibly built in the late 1860's for early 1870's, it is two stories high and is built of red flemish bond brick. This block years ago was known as the McKenna Block. William McKenna was the largest landowner in downtown Lancaster in the 1830's and 1840's.

19. 107 South Main is the old Masonic Hall Building, rebuilt in 1902 for Jackson Lodge. Two and one-half stories high, three brick cornices and brick insets in the top story are of yellow stretcher bond brick.

20. Davis Property was the location of the Cross Roads Gin in Lancaster's very early days. It was replaced by the Davis Building. Thomas H. Davis in 1880 developed a variety of okra known as the "Clemson Spineless Okra." Note the plaque on the corner of the building.

21. New County Office Building.

The Lancaster Downtown District was nominated and accepted to the National
Register of Historic Places in August l984.
The term "bond" means bricks laid in an overlapping way to cause them to hold together firmly.
The term "stretcher" means bricks are laid horizontally with their length in the direction of the face of a wall in order to strengthen the wall.

Rare local history book resurfaces

Original article available here.
The Lancaster News by Jenny Arnold

The Lancaster County Historical Commission has rediscovered an out-of-print book about local history.
The Rev. J.B. Knight, who has written books about Lancaster’s mill hill community and has an extensive collection of local history books, found “Historical Notes from Lancaster County, S.C.” in his collection in March and thought the county Historical Commission would be interested.
The book was compiled Viola Caston Floyd, who wrote several books and pictorial histories of Lancaster County.
Knight is a member of the Historical Commission and brought the book to a meeting.
Since then, it’s been passed around to other commission members, who have worked to find other copies of the rare book. There are two copies at the Lancaster County Library, available for view in the Caroliniana Room but not for check out.
The 366-page book contains no pictures and was printed in 1977. It’s copyrighted by the Lancaster County Historical Commission. Knight bought it in 1978 at Lancaster Stationery Co. on Main Street.
“It’s not a pictorial history, but there’s certainly some interesting tidbits in there,” Knight said. “It was like she (Floyd) was writing her thoughts. It seemed like it was more personal.”
The book fascinated another Historical Commission member, Jo Williams.
“It has information in it that I had heard about all my life, but never seen documented before,” Williams said.
One article in the book details a newspaper article published in The Lancaster News on Dec. 16, 1906. The article talked about 18 Confederate soldiers being held at the local jail. They were to be executed, and made a plan to overpower the guard on their execution day and escape.
When the guard came to their cell, the soldiers’ leader stuck his foot in the door so the jailer couldn’t close it on them again.
According to the article, the jailer said, “There’s no use of that, boys. You are to be exchanged man for man.”
The soldiers had escaped death. One of the soldiers claimed that he never expected to hear sweeter words this side of heaven than “exchanged man for man.”
Williams is also curious about the mysterious story of a white suit that was once on display in the Caroliniana Room at the Lancaster County Library.
Floyd wrote about the homespun suit for The Lancaster News in 1977.
At that time, the suit, which belonged to Henry Rowell, was believed to be 127 years old. Rowell fought in the Civil War, serving with an artillery company near Charleston. He was remembered to have worn the suit for special occasions, such as holy communion services at Bethlehem Lutheran Church.
The article details the care with how the long-tailed suit was made. But where is this relic today?
“I don’t think anyone knows,” Williams said. “I don’t ever remember seeing it. It’s probably back in a drawer somewhere.”
Williams said she’s glad there is another book documenting Lancaster County’s history.
“Any time you find another source of history written by a reliable, thorough researcher, it’s invaluable,” she said.
Contact senior reporter Jenny Arnold at or at (803) 283-1151

Friday, December 4, 2009


This sleepy little southern town has an evil that lurks beneath it's crisp white linens and around is sharply tailored lawns. So stop in if you dare, just don't dare stay.