Scenic USA - South Carolina
Carolina State House
|Photos by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Artist Website
Just a few decades before the United States was officially a nation, South Carolina's governing body gathered in the coastal city of Charleston. The first meeting of the South Carolina Assembly met in a two story building in 1756. Following the Revolutionary War, the state capital was moved to a more centralized location in Columbia.
South Carolina's second state house was completed in the new capital city in 1790. Built of wood over a brick basement, the state house deteriorated with time and jeopardized the state's official public records. By 1850 a fire proof building was constructed adjacent the State House for the public records, becoming a wing for the third capitol building, started in 1854. By mid year the first architect was dismissed, and what was completed was dismantled. A new architect, Major John R. Niernsee, furnished a new design, but its construction was slowed by the Civil War. After General Sherman and the Union Army stormed through in February, 1865, the city was left in ruins. The old State House was burned to the ground and a vast amount of construction materials were destroyed. Strained, both financially and physically, the third State House wouldn't be completed until 1903.
Throughout the 20th century, the building was modernized, air conditioning was installed, fire safety requirements met, and accommodations for the handicapped were added. Its remarkable dome, not part of the initial design, was also refurbished. The interior dome is not the same dome as viewed from the exterior. The false interior dome was placed over the center or the lobby for aesthetics. The exterior columns, cut from a single piece of stone, weigh 37 tons each and are among the largest in the world.
Tours are conducted at various times during the day throughout the year. Check the schedule to see if a tour may be incorporated with your visit.
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