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Winnsboro Town Clock — Winnsboro, South Carolina


SC Picture Project  |  Fairfield County  |  Winnsboro Town Clock


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Winnsboro Town Clock

In 1785, South Carolina’s General Assembly approved a public market in the Town of Winnsboro (then spelled Winnsborough) in Fairfield County. The square, wooden structure was painted yellow and topped with a bell tower (1). In the 1820s, Robert Cathcart purchased this original market and, in return, donated land along Washington Street that had once a duck pond (1).

Winnsboro Town Clock

William Prows II of Columbia, 2019 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Winnsboro’s Town Council accepted this donation and again petitioned legislature for a public market (1). The petition was granted, but the state stipulated that the new market be only 30 feet wide (1) – giving it a striking resemblance to Independence Hall in Philadelphia. This second market’s brick edifice also featured a town clock (1).

Winnsboro Town Clock

William Prows II of Columbia, 2019 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

In 1837, Colonel William McCreight, the intendant (mayor) of Winnsboro, ordered the clockworks (1). These arrived in Charleston via sail from Alsace, France, and were then carried to Winnsboro in wagons (1). The clock’s fine craftsmanship has withstood the test of time for over a century, making it the longest continuously running clock in the United States (1).

Winnsboro Town Clock

William Prows II of Columbia, 2019 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The present tower was erected in 1875 by John Smart, a local African-American carpenter, and his iteration was crowned with a bell, also made in France (1). In days of old, the bell atop public markets rang when fresh meat arrived (1). In 1895, two townsmen struck the bell so vigorously during a fire that it cracked and had to be sent to J. McShane in Philadelphia for repairs (1).

Winnsboro Town Clock

William Prows II of Columbia, 2019 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The ground floor of the building that once served as Winnsboro’s public market is now used as meeting space for various organizations. The upper floor is home to the Fairfield County Chamber of Commerce.

Reflections on Winnsboro Town Clock


Below is a painting of the Winnsboro Town Clock that was executed by Gene Brigman. Gene writes: “Town Clock Remembered is an acrylic on canvas painting finished in April of 2007. Having called Winnsboro home for most of my 60 years, I remember that this town clock was the focal point. I’ve heard all of my life that this is the oldest continuously running town clock in the US. I don’t know if it’s true, but true or not, outside of my family, it is one of the strongest memories of growing up in Winnsboro.”

Winnsboro Town Clock Painting

Gene Brigman of Lexington, 2007 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Winnsboro Town Clock: Our Sources


1. Town of Winnsboro.

Winnsboro Town Clock Info


Address: 100 Congress Street, Winnsboro, SC 29180
GPS Coordinates: 34.380610,-81.086196
Website: http://fairfieldchamber.sc/

Winnsboro Town Clock Map

Please Share Your Thoughts!


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7 Comments about Winnsboro Town Clock

Xoxo says:
March 10th, 2017 at 11:30 pm

Beàuty lies in the eyes of the beholder.

Samuel Banister says:
September 21st, 2014 at 5:25 pm

I ride by it every day; it is not that amazing.

Sitrena Smith says:
November 27th, 2017 at 2:41 pm

Yes it is! My grandparents, Emma and John Johnson, lived there and I would visit every summer! I loved that clock.

Scott Johnson says:
March 11th, 2014 at 11:40 am

My wife and I recently day-tripped up from Columbia to poke around Winnsboro. We’ve been here fifteen years and have yet to see downtown. Never made it past the strawberry patch. We fell in love with Winnsboro; it is a beautiful little town with charm and appeal.

Tyiesha says:
March 6th, 2013 at 10:01 am

It is so pretty, I want to come and see it one day!

Sitrena Smith says:
November 27th, 2017 at 2:42 pm

Me too!

Walter Jones says:
January 28th, 2013 at 3:31 pm

I now live in Florida but still miss the tone of that bell!




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