South Carolina Picture Project
South Carolina Picture Project

Judge Thomas Dawkins House — Union, South Carolina

SC Picture Project  |  Union County  |  Judge Thomas Dawkins House

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Judge Thomas Dawkins House

Also called The Shrubs, this historical home in Union was built around 1845 for Judge Thomas Dawkins. Dawkins was a Unionist during the nullification controversy, a position which placed him in the minority within his community. On November 24, 1832, the state legislature approved the South Carolina Ordinance of Nullification, which sought to eliminate a tariff on imports in South Carolina. The tariff benefited the textile industries of the North while lowering the price of cotton, hurting planters in the South.

Judge Dawkins House

Ann Helms of Spartanburg, 2017 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

While a compromise bill allowed South Carolina to avoid a confrontation with the federal government, many from the state continued to hold strong nullification views. Though Judge Dawkins vocally disagreed with many of his neighbors on the issue, he was nonetheless well-regarded by his peers and eventually elected as a state representative.

Judge Dawkins House

Charles Payne of Rock Hill, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The Judge Dawkins home was briefly used as the headquarters for Governor Andrew Magrath, who evacuated Columbia just before General Sherman burned of the city. Magrath and Dawkins had attended college together, and McGrath chose Union as his Provisional capital. With him he brought his staff and many of the state’s records. As such, Union is one of just four state capitals to serve South Carolina, with the others being Columbia, Charleston, and Jacksonboro.

Dawkins House Marker

Michael Mascari of Blythewood, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Following the Civil War, Judge Dawkins was elected to the South Carolina State Convention of 1865. He also served on a committee that appealed to President Andrew Johnson for the release of Jefferson Davis, who had been held as a prisoner after the war. Dawkins was active in his community as well as in state and national politics and founded the Church of the Nativity in Union with his second wife, Mary Poulton Dawkins, in 1855.

Dawkins House Addition

Michael Mascari of Blythewood, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Today the home appears much as it did when it was built in the mid-nineteenth century. Modifications such as a screen for the porch – which has since been removed – and the one-story addition on the rear, seen below, allowed for updates while retaining the home’s original facade. Six columns support the open veranda, and a demilune fanlight graces the entrance door. The home sits on the University of South Carolina campus in Union.

Dawkins House Side

Michael Mascari of Blythewood, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The Judge Thomas Dawkins House is listed in the National Register:

(The Shrubs) The Dawkins House, ca. 1845, served as the residence of Judge Thomas Dawkins, a well-known political leader in Union County. As a young lawyer who was a Unionist during the nullification controversy, Dawkins was surprisingly popular with his constituency. Despite his Unionist beliefs, he was elected to the state legislature. After the Civil War, Judge Dawkins served as a member of the state convention for the reorganization of the state government. In 1865, Dawkins was named to a committee that appealed to President Johnson for the release of Jefferson Davis, and in 1866 he served as chairman of the state judiciary committee of the House of Representatives. According to local tradition, the house was used for several days in February, 1865, as Governor Andrew G. Magrath’s headquarters for executing the affairs of the State. Governor Magrath had been forced to leave Columbia when General W. T. Sherman occupied and burned the city. The house is a two-story clapboard dwelling with a hipped metal roof. The five-bay wide veranda is enclosed by a balustrade and supported by six chamfered columns.

Judge Thomas Dawkins House Info

Address: 117 North Church Street, Union, SC 29379
GPS Coordinates: 34.717320,-81.620293

Judge Thomas Dawkins House Map

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