During the summer of 1784, several owners of large rice plantations in what is now Colleton County, South Carolina, began searching for a location for summer homes to escape their malaria-ridden, lowcountry homes. This is where they settled. The original settlement was located on a hilly area, covered with pine and hickory trees and named “Hickory Valley.” This small summer retreat grew and in 1817, the town became the county seat and was officially incorporated in 1826. The story goes that two citizens, one named Walter and the other Smith, each insisted the town be named for him. They ended the dispute by a tree-felling contest in which Smith was the loser.
The town quickly spread out from the original Hickory Valley location, its population growth fueled successively bythe establishment of a railroad line connecting the city with Columbia and Charleston in the 1880s, the establishment of an airfield in the 1930s and the north-south highways on the 1950s, making the town a prime overnight stop on the road to Florida or New York.
When bypasses took the highway around town, development stopped. The main street shopping district remains almost unchanged from the 1940s and the tree-lined streets through the residential areas are wide and sidewalk-less. The ambiance of days gone by has attracted movie location scouts and style magazines.
Our walking tour will wind through two historic districts and start in the center of town where the talents of South Carolina’s artists are on display and there is plenty of public parking...
South Carolina Artisans Center
334 Wichman Street
The South Carolina Artisans Center interprets, markets, preserves, and perpetuates the folk art and fine craftsmanship of local craftspeople while creating a better understanding of our rich and diverse cultural heritage. More than 200 of the state’s finest juried artists are represented here.
WALK OUT TO WICHMAN STREET AND TURN RIGHT.
418 Wichman Street
In the 1840s this was the home of Elizabeth Ann Horry Dent,widow of Captain J. Herbert Dent, Commander of the frigate U.S.S. Constitution, familiarly known as “Old Ironsides. The front of the was built a decade earlier, the back of the house came about a decade later. The second story and Ionic columns with the unique crossed capitals added in 1935.
TURN RIGHT ON EAST WASHINGTON STREET.
521-545 East Washington Street
The Hotel Albert Commercial Block was built to answer the town’s need for a modern hotel with amenities to attract the newly developing automobile traveling trade, as well as establish a social haven for local residents. The block consists of four two-story brick structures designed by architect George F. Clayton of Atlanta as an interconnecting complex, where each section augmented the function and operation of the other. It was constructed in 1912 to replace the then worn-down Walterboro Hotel located on the same site. The complex pushed the boundaries of a rapidly growing town while providing much needed businesses, such as a bank, tack and carriage shop, and dry goods retailer. Architecturally, due to the size and out of the way location, the Hotel Albert complex has retained much of its original fabric and is a quintessential example of a small town hotel and commercial structure of the 1910s and 1920s.
501 East Washington Street
This was the property of R. H. Wichman; in 1880 the town’s first bank was built here. In the years since it has served as a grocery store, barber shop, bicycle shop, Coca-Cola bottling plant, and a flower shop.
Walterboro Water Tower
East Washington Street at Memorial Street
Construction of the 133-foot reinforced concrete tower was completed in 1915, designed and built by a Boston engineering firm. Only two others like it exist in South Carolina. The water tank, which holds 100,000 gallons of water, is still used by the City of Walterboro and has become a familiar landmark. The lower portion was used by the city as a jail for a short time and sometimes stranded travelers were allowed to lodge here for a night.
BEAR RIGHT AND CONTINUE ON EAST WASHINGTON STREET.
373 East Washington Street
A local landmark since the mid-1900s, the pharmacy features a hometown soda fountain and lunch counter. The black and white tiled floor is emblematic of a classic Walterboro store.
324 East Washington Street
This 1890 brick building began life as Zalin’s Department Store. About 1918 Albert Novit moved from Charleston to Walterboro and married Bessie Zalin. Novit opened his emporium down the street opposite the courthouse. In the 1930s he moved the operation into this building and gave it an Art Deco make-over. Novit’s Department Store became Novit-Siegel when Sam Siegel of Anderson married into the family business. Meanwhile Novit, recognizing that the new north-south automobile route would pass through Walterboro opened the Lady Lafayette Hotel, which he billed as “America’s Most Unique Hotel.” It featured guest cottages around an Old World-style main building. The hotel indeed became famous and Novitt amassed the world’s largest collection of miniature dogs, all donated by guests. The hostel prospered until the 1950s when Highway 301 bypassed Walterboro and killed the tourist trade.
Old Post Office
305 East Washington Street
This is a typical Neoclassical post office commissioned as a Works Project Administration building during the Great Depression. The federal government also hired artists to produce murals on the inside of its public buildings. here, Sheffield Kagy created a mural depicting Lowcountry plants and produce.
TURN LEFT ON RICHLAND STREET.
Walterboro City Plaza
north side of East Washington Street
A downtown re-development program from the 1980s contributed this open plaza with a concrete waterfall to the streetscape. A War memorial was created on the left-hand wall.
Farmers and Merchant Building
229 East Washington Street
The clock has been a favorite meeting place in downtown Walterboro since it was installed by the Farmers and Merchants Bank in 1951. The clock has a Westminster Chime, which sings every quarter hour. The Farmers and Merchants ledger books have long been closed but the clock remains a beloved landmark.
224 East Washington Street
This was the original store of Alfred Novit when he went into business in 1918. After moving his department store down the street in the 1930s he converted this into “Novit’s Fashion Shoppe,” a high-end emporium for Walterboro women.
The Press and Standard Building
113 East Washington Street
The Press and Standard traces its roots to 1877 when the Colleton Democrat – the Colleton Press after 1880 – was founded. B. G. Price Jr. was editor and publisher. The Press merged with the Colleton Standard in 1890. William Wightman Smoak brought the Press and Standard in 1906 and sold it to R. M. Jefferies in 1913. But only for a year. He bought the paper back in 1914 and carved out a career as publisher, state legislator and state and civic leader until 1947. The paper stayed in the family until 1992. The paper occupied this site from 1891 until 2005; the present building dates to 1920.
CROSS OVER JEFFRIES STREET AND WALK RIGHT TO THE VISITOR’S CENTER IN THE COLLETON MUSEUM.
The Colleton Museum/Old Jail
239 North Jefferies Boulevard
This Neo-Gothic structure was the county jail when it was constructed in the 1850s. It was designed by noted Charleston architects Jones and Lee and constructed by Jonathan and Benjamin Lucas. The jailer and his family lived on the first floor. It did duty as a jail until 1937 when it was remodeled but despite many changes still looks like a miniature fortified castle.
WITH YOUR BACK TO THE MUSEUM, TURN RIGHT AND WALK SOUTH ON JEFFRIES STREET. TURN LEFT AND CROSS OVER AT HAMPTON STREET.
Colleton County Courthouse
southeast corner of Hampton and Jeffries streets
The Greek Revival portico is attributed to Robert Mills, South Carolina native son and designer of the Washington Monument, and built by Charleston contractors in 1822 at the coast of $20,750. The Colleton County Courthouse is a handsomely designed brick building stuccoed to represent stone. The entrance façade contains curved stairways with ironwork railings leading to a raised portico with an ironwork balustrade. Four Tuscan columns support the portico’s massive, undecorated entablature. The portico is framed by two pilasters and shelters a double, four-paneled door with sidelights and transom. The roofline is formed by a parapet extending the full width of the entrance façade, where it is surmounted by a shorter, second parapet. An arcaded entrance is below the raised portico. Two large wings were added to the original building in 1939. The first public meeting on nullification was held here in June 1828 when Robert Barnwell Rhett delivered his militant “Walterboro Address” urging Governor John Taylor to call an immediate session of the state legislature for the purpose of openly resisting tariff laws.
242 Hampton Street
In 1975 this building was remodeled with a Palladian facade of four Doric columns to compliment the courthouse across the street. The original structure was completed in 1940 as A Depression-era project.
Bethel United Methodist Church
355 Hampton Street
The first Methodist church in Walterboro was built in 1832 on land donated by Robert Barwell Rhett. Four structures were built between that time and 1929 when the present sanctuary and education buildings were dedicated. In 1956 Bethel was enlarged to its present size and a two story education building constructed. The stained glass windows were given as memorials and dedicated in May 1973.
First Baptist Church
124 South Memorial Ave at southwest corner of Hampton Street
The First Baptist Church burned to the ground in 1963 and was rebuilt in 1968. It sports the tallest steeple in Walterboro.
422 Hampton Street
This is an example of the bungalow-style houses built in Walterboro in the late 1800s. The house features heart pine and heavy timbers pegged together. The kitchen is in a detached room in the back.
458 Hampton Street
The four giant Doric columns fronting this 1910-era house are solid concrete. The house, essentially unchanged since its construction, reflects a time of prosperity after the Civil War.
474 Hampton Street
This house as built in 1889 as a one-story wood frame house. A second story came along in 1912. After a half-century as an apartment house, the pediment portico with four large Ionic columns was added to the front.
487 Hampton Street
This one-story, gable-roofed cottage was originally a duplicate of 475 Hampton Street. It was built in the 1890s.
500 Hampton Street
Major Madison Peyton Howell built this large, two-story house in 1912. He sold a smaller house down the street to his law partner and brother-in-law E.L. Fishburne, Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court. Later, at Major Howell’s suggestion, the families later swapped houses to better suit the size of Fishburne’sfamily.
Colleton County Memorial Library
600 Hampton Street
The library, built in 1957, is on the former B.G. Price family homestead, which was formerly the home of Archibald Campbell, who started the survey of the town in 1826.
TURN LEFT ON FISHBURNE STREET. TURN RIGHT ON CHAPLIN STREET.
103 Chaplin Street
This house, built in 1813, is considered the oldest standing house in Walterboro. It was once the social center of Walterboro with a big ballroom on the first floor where Miss Millie Chaplin taught dancing.
Church of Atonement
207 Chaplin Street
This 19th century church, a fine example of Carpenter Gothic, was constructed as a mission of St. Jude’s Episcopal Church. It features an open belfry, fish-scale shingles, arched double doors and lancet arch windows.
WALK BACK A FEW STEPS TO TRACY STREET AND TURN RIGHT.
Hopewell Presbyterian Church
1402 Wichman Street at southeast corner of Tracy Street
This red brick church was established by Bethel Church in 1870 for black communicants. It was a clapboard building then; it was faced in brick after World War II. The design incorporates a side steeple, an unusual church style.
TURN LEFT ON WICHMAN STREET.
1009 Wichman Street
This four-columned house, built circa 1830, was almost completely destroyed by arson in 2002 but has been restored by local preservationists.
919 Wichman Street
This excellent example of a Greek Revival house was constructed by a northern lawyer in the early 1900s. It features Ionic columns on brick bases with a balustrade that extends across the second level.
O’Hear Fraser House
918 Wichman Street
This house, built is 1858 with slave labor, is a survivor of the cyclone of 1879. The front door came from the old Jacksonboro Court House and two leaded windows in the kitchen are from St. Jude’s Episcopal Church, which was destroyed by the storm. Capped by a tine roof, it is typical of the summer houses of the early Lowcountry planters.
St. Peter’s AME Church
902 Wichman Street
This Gothic Revival church replaces a Baptist church which was destroyed by that cyclone of 1879. The AME Church was established following the Emancipation Proclamation and adopted the doctrines of the Methodist and Episcopal churches.
St. Jude’s Episcopal Church
907 Wichman Street at northeast corner of Fishburne Street
St. Jude’s was built in 1882 to replace an earlier structure that was swept away by the cyclone of 1879. The church has basically been unaltered ever since. The striking stained glass windows were made in Munich, Germany.
TURN RIGHT ON FISHBURNE STREET AND GO TO CHURCH STREET.
205 Church Street
The Bedon-Lucas House, built around 1820, is one of Walterboro’s five remaining “high houses,” so named for the structure’s high height off the ground. The interior has been preserved and features original heart of pine floors and a fine display of antique furnishings. The piazza is distinguished by six large tapered columns which were later additions.
TURN RIGHT ON CHURCH STREET.
305 Church Street
This property was purchased in 1888 and the house built before 1904. The original small cottage was expanded by adding and enlarging rooms and porches, including the circular end of the front porch. The house is now a large Victorian cottage with slender columns supporting the piazza.
Bethel Presbyterian Church
402 Church Street
This church, originally located at Jacksonboro, was founded in 1728 by Reverend Archibald Stobo, father of the Presbyterian church in South Carolina. The congregation built a chapel here for summer worship in 1822 - it was the site of a log cabin erected by Major Paul Walter, one of the founding brothers of the town. A larger sanctuary was built in 1860 but was destroyed by that 1879 cyclone. The next church lasted until 1966 when it was leveled by fire. The present brick church was built in 1969.
TURN LEFT ON HEYWARD STREET.
104 Valley Street at southeast corner of Heyward Street
This house was built for James J. Klein in 1824. He constructed a small drugstore in the backyard, which was one of the earliest in South Carolina.
E.B. Fishburne House
201 Webb Street at Heyward Street
Edward B. Fishburne built this house in 1829. W.W. Smoak, publisher of the Press & Standard newspaper, bought this house in 1915 and lived here until his death in 1947.
TURN LEFT ON HEYWARD STREET. TURN LEFT ON WITSELL STREET. TURN RIGHT ON CHURCH STREET. TURN LEF TON FISHBURNE STREET. TURN LEFT ON WICHMAN STREET.
803 Wichman Street
The Walterboro Library Society Building, known as “The Little Library,” built in 1820, is a small frame building and an excellent example of Federal style architecture. Note the Palladian windows, beaded clapboard and louvered shutters. When the town was incorporated in 1826, the boundaries were fixed as 3/4 of a mile in every direction from the site of the Walterboro Library. The building served the town until 1955 and is presently the headquarters for the Colleton County Historical Society and Preservation Society.
CONTINUE TWO BLOCKS TO THE TOUR STARTING POINT AT THE SOUTH CAROLINA ARTISANS CENTER.