The Bedon-Lucas house is one of the few remaining high-houses in Colleton County. Located in the heart of Walterboro, South Carolina’s Historic District this beautiful house reminds visitors and locals alike the culture and heritage that is so prevalent in the South. Plantation owners in the Colleton County area were primarily growing rice. Growing rice requires fields that can be flooded with water and are necessarily extremely low-lying. A high-house is a home on higher ground that was also elevated off the ground itself in an attempt to avoid the damp ground and associated illnesses that accompanied Lowcountry summers.
The house was built in 1820 for Richard Bedon by an architect from New York by the name of N.Y. Perry. Bedon used this home as his summer residence until it was sold to Clarence Lucase in 1840. While Richard Bedon lived in the home he donated his front yard in order to create a small park in the center of Walterboro. The Walterboro Library Society building, the Little Library, was moved to the newly formed little park directly in front of the Bedon-Lucas House.1
After Clarence Lucas purchased the home he lived there with his family and the home was eventually left to his son, P.J. Lucas.2 P.J. Lucas and his wife, Ruth, raised six children in the home. The Lucas family lived in the home until health concerns caused the last owner-resident of the home, Mrs. Ruth Lucas, to have to move to nearby Allendale.3 It was rented for a time, however, it eventually fell into neglect and disrepair and suffered some significant damage from Hurricane Gracie in 1959.4 This may have actually saved the Bedon-Lucas house as the hurricane took off the roof and thus had to be replaced.5 Unfortunately important historic homes and buildings are often neglected to the point that demolition becomes necessary, much like the Nullification House that was also located in Walterboro, SC. It began to look like this would be the ultimate fate of the Bedon-Lucas House as well.
Between the 1960s and 1990s the home continued to fall further into disrepair and neglect as the family had moved away from Walterboro. Mrs. Hughes details the damages that were done to the home during the time that the home was uninhabited: “Windows were broken by brick bats, shutters, porcelain door knobs and light fixtures were looted. The gutters deteriorated causing decay to the piazzas and other additions, the yard and house was overgrown by wisteria and smilax vines.”6
Even though several buyers were interested in purchasing and renovating this historic home there were difficulties in being able to strike the right deal with the Lucas heirs.7 In an effort to try to save the house, the Colleton County Historical and Preservation society nominated the home as one of the “Eleven Most Endangered Structures in South Carolina,” in 1995 and began preparations to negotiate to secure the home for restoration and historical preservation.8
The Colleton County Historical and Preservation Society was successful in acquiring the property in 1996 and quickly began removing overgrown vegetation and debris to prepare for restoration of the building itself.9 Much effort has been put into restoring the home in as.
By 2014, the Bedon-Lucas House was again in need of some repairs. Work on the front and back porch floors and ceilings eliminated deteriorated wood. Several trees causing damage both from their limbs to the roof of the house and by their roots to the base of the house were removed. Rotting wood around windows and on the exterior of the house was replaced. The foundation was waterproofed and sealed. The exterior of the house was repainted. The Bedon-Lucas house represents the people of Walterboro and the interior reflects life in Walterboro. The front left room has been restored to the mid 1800s while the back bedroom shows a quilt made in 1910 and represents Victorian Culture.
Today the Bedon-Lucas House is the headquarters of the Colleton County Historical Society. In addition it can be rented out to members of the community for weddings, showers, meetings, concerts, and other events.10 It is important that people realize the significance of saving our old buildings as they allow us to get a glimpse of our history and the culture that used to prevail in the areas in which they are located. Because of the heroic efforts of the Colleton County Historical Society and many generous donors and volunteers this grand beautiful home still stands and provides the opportunity for more people to learn about the local history of Walterboro, South Carolina.
Written by: A. Karel Horn
November 20, 2014
1Laura Lynn Hughes, “Collection of Laura Lynn Hughes,” Collection of Papers and Documents detailing the History and Preservation of Colleton County, Colleton County Historical Society, n.d.
3Jennifer L. Haman, “The Bedon-Lucas House: Identification and Preservation of Artifacts,” Magellan Grant Abstract, The Colleton County Historical and Preservation Society, 2014.
6Laura Lynn Hughes, “Collection of Laura Lynn Hughes,” Collection of Papers and Documents detailing the History and Preservation of Colleton County, Colleton County Historical Society, n.d.
10Stephanie Jadrnickek, “Historical Society Moves Forward,” The Press and Standard, (Walterboro, SC) March 21, 2008.