The Colleton County Courthouse is located on Hampton Street in downtown Walterboro. The original section of the courthouse was completed in 1822 after the county seat was moved from Jacksonboro. The building’s portico is attributed to renowned architect Robert Mills, who designed many South Carolina courthouses. Mills completed the building’s design, begun by William Jay, and the courthouse was built by contractor William N. Thompson.
From 1843 to 1844, the Colleton County Courthouse underwent extensive renovations, completed by contractors Jonathan and Benjamin Lucas of Charleston; the Lucas brothers also built the old Colleton County Jail. The courthouse was enlarged in 1916 with the addition of the west wing. Between 1937 and 1939 the Works Progress Administration added the east wing, added brick veneer to the west wing, built an addition on the north entrance, and remodeled the interior.
The courthouse was the site of the first nullification meeting, held on on June 22, 1828. Robert Barnwell Rhett, who served in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1826 through 1832 and later served in both the United States Congress and United States Senate, implored Governor John Taylor to call a secession of the state legislature to resist tariff laws. In October of that year James Hamilton, Jr., who was serving in the United States House of Representatives, held another meeting at the courthouse calling for nullification of the state. Hamilton served as governor of South Carolina in 1832 when the Ordinance of Nullification was passed; he also presided over the convention.
The Confederate monument on the courthouse grounds (seen above) honors the Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. The obelisk was dedicated on June 22, 1911 by the Confederate Veterans of Colleton County; fifty Confederate veteran attended the dedication ceremony. The monument has stood at three locations since it was placed on the grounds: on the corner of Jeffries Boulevard and Hampton Street, on the corner of East Washington Street and Waters Street, and in the center of the courthouse facing Hampton Street, where it stands today.
The inscription on the front of the monument reads:
To the Confederate soldiers of Colleton County, S.C.
To those who fought and lived
To those who fought and died
To those who gave much
And to those who gave all
The other side of the monuments says:
To the mothers, wives, sisters and daughters of Colleton County
Who fought the home battles of 1861-1865
In 1997 an effort to have the monument removed from the courthouse grounds was led by a group of citizens. The group stated that the monument’s prominence placement in front of the courthouse promoted racism and did not represent the current county government. However, the monument remains standing in front of the courthouse.
The courthouse underwent another restoration in 2007. The project was designed by the architectural firm Stevens and Wilkinson and was completed by Blanchard Construction. The modifications consisted mostly of structural repairs but also included historic courtroom woodwork reproduction and refinishing, bullet proofing casework and windows, and historic window replacement.
The Colleton County Courthouse is listed in the National Register:
The Colleton County Courthouse is significant architecturally as a fine example of Greek Revival architecture whose design is attributed to Robert Mills and built by J. and B. Lucas, noted Charleston contractors. Constructed in 1820, 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. Its historical significance is derived from the fact that the first public meeting on nullification was held here in June 1828. At this meeting, 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. In late October 1828, James Hamilton, Jr. organized a second meeting here and proclaimed the necessity of “nullification by the state…of the unauthorized act.”
More Pictures of the Colleton County Courthouse