Prominently at the corner of Hampton Street and Jefferies Boulevard stands an impressive white building. The eye-catching statue and soaring columns give it an air of splendor and majesty. This is the Colleton County Courthouse, the seat of justice in Colleton County and a reminder of our history. This building is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a stately reminder of the history of Colleton County.
The main part of the Courthouse was built in 1822 when the county seat moved from Jacksonboro to Walterboro. It is a Greek Revival style building boasting four beautiful doric columns and two curved staircases. The exterior appears to be stone but is actually stuccoed brick meant to emulate the appearance of stone.1 The building was designed by William Jay and the front portico was designed by architect Robert Mills.
In June of 1828 Robert Barnwell Rhett planter, lawyer, state’s representative, and ardent supporter of states’ rights and state sovereignty delivered his fiery speech in favor of Nullification, specifically the nullification of the Tariff of 1828 which was known in the South as “The Tariff of Abominations.”2 Rhett lived in Walterboro while he was practicing law and the home that he owned in town became known as The Nullification House, which has unfortunately been demolished. This historic speech firmly places the Courthouse at the center of what would become an important precursor to the Civil War. Rhett delivered his speech standing on the steps of the Colleton County Courthouse to a huge crowd which included many prominent South Carolinians of the period.3 It was the first public meeting of its kind and sparked a division in our national government.
The Courthouse has undergone many renovations and additions. In 1843-1844 it underwent extensive renovations. In 1916 it was enlarged and in 1939 two wings were added to the already impressive building.4 In 1971 it was entered into the National Register of Historic Places and it received its historic marker in 2001. In the front lawn of the Courthouse stands a memorial to Southern Soldiers and Women of Colleton County.5 In addition a monument to honor the men and women who serve as officers in Colleton County as police and law enforcement officers has been added to the front lawn.
Written by: A. Karel Horn
November 17, 2014
1T Marcinko, “Cultural Resources: Sites of Public Interest,” National and Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, October 14, 2014. http://www.nerrs.noaa.gov/doc/siteprofile/acebasin/html/cultural/cultres/crstfile.htm
2Catherine de Treville, “The Nullification House,” The Press and Standard (Walterboro, SC), February 6, 1975
3T Marcinko, “Cultural Resources: Sites of Public Interest,” National and Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, October 14, 2014. http://www.nerrs.noaa.gov/doc/siteprofile/acebasin/html/cultural/cultres/crstfile.htm
5“Colleton County Courthouse,” sciway.net, October 14, 2014. http://www.sciway.net/sc-photos/colleton-county/colleton-county-courthouse.html