Market Hall graces the Town Green in historic Cheraw, guarded by the town clock standing sentry across the street. Built in 1837, this steepled building was designed by Irish immigrant and master builder Conlaw Peter Lynch. Lynch also designed St. Peter’s Catholic Church and Old Merchant’s Bank. In fact, he used the same architectural plan for Market Hall as he did for St. Peter’s. (Lynch may also have designed Cheraw’s Town Hall.)
Cheraw’s former Director of Tourism and Community Development, David Sides, tells us that Market Hall is “one of Cheraw’s most significant buildings. Mr. Lynch was also responsible for the design of St. Peter’s Catholic Church, which explains the similarities of the two buildings. The lower portion of Market Hall was originally an open area where traditional commerce transactions took place, and on occasion personal property was auctioned here, including slaves. The upstairs was once used as a court of law, and in the 1940s housed the town’s police department.”
Today the building is used for occasional meetings and for welcoming visitors and guests to the South Carolina Jazz Festival, held in Cheraw the third week of October.
Market Hall is listed in the National Register as part of the Cheraw Historic District:
Around 1736 Welsh Baptists came to South Carolina and settled in the Pee Dee region. In 1766 Eli Kershaw, who had been given a grant of land along the Pee Dee River, laid out the town of Cheraw. It was incorporated in 1820. Located at a key navigational point, Cheraw began to develop as a commercial center of interior South Carolina; however, the Civil War and Reconstruction temporarily halted this progress. For a time development was impeded and rebuilding was delayed. Although the town eventually prospered, much of its physical character remained unaltered. The town of Cheraw also played an important role in South Carolina military history. During both the American Revolution and the Civil War, British and Union troops used St. David’s Episcopal Church as a hospital. The meeting house style church still stands today. Additionally in 1825, Revolutionary War figure Marquis de Lafayette stayed in Cheraw during his tour of the United States. Located within the district are a variety of architectural styles that include the early frame homes of the 1800s (often called upcountry farmhouses, or essentially I-House in type), antebellum structures with Classical Revival details and Greek Revival porticos, and Victorian houses from the turn of the century. The district also includes several churches, a cemetery, and the towns’ original boundary markers dating from 1766.