The Anderson Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Text below was selected and adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2009, The Gombach Group.
A back-country tavern on the General's Road from Tamassee to Abbeville was the starting point for Anderson, S.C., county seat of Anderson. Created in 1826 with the division of the Pendleton District, Anderson County had a noteworthy beginning and has grown to a high place of prominence in the state.
Any progressive community cannot be held by its original boundaries and with few exceptions, the Anderson Historic District within the city involves an area of what were originally out-lying lots.
Streets have been widened over the years to accommodate modern traffic, but the Anderson Historic District retains much of its original charm. Some 20th century structures have been added to the area. Religious heritage plays an important part and within the Anderson Historic District are four of the early churches along with a modern-day church.
Despite rapid growth of the business district, commercialism has crept little into the Anderson Historic District. Trees stand tall and in great number in the yards and along the streets. Only a stone's throw away from the business district, the area remains relatively quiet and little affected by today's world.
Many styles of architecture may be found within the Anderson Historic District, which has as its western boundary a portion of South Main Street, originally the General's Road, named for Gen. Andrew Pickens of Revolutionary fame.
Anderson came into being in 1826 with the formation of Anderson County, and as a courthouse seat, the community was quick to develop. It grew despite the War Between the States and occupation for several years thereafter.
The Anderson Historic District was the home of many prominent Andersonians, some who guided its early success, others who went on to state or national fame. Descendants of many of the families still remain in the city.
A number of structures are noteworthy, historically and/or architecturally. They include:
- Christopher Orr's Residence – Shortly after building a tavern on the south side of the Courthouse Square in 1832, Christopher Orr built a home on Benson Street, some 50 yards away. It is considered first in town to have marble mantels. The basement rooms were used as office apartments. Orr was father of James L. Orr, judge, governor of S.C. and minister to Russia. In 1844 the house was moved to its present location, several blocks away but within the original town boundary, and is a private residence.
- Johnson-Morris Cottage – A "Columbia cottage," this home was erected c.1851 and in 1853 became the home of Dr. William B. Johnson. He was president of the female academy, later to become Johnson University, of which he was chancellor. Long a Baptist leader, he was the first president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
- Elijah Webb Brown House – Built c.1859, this was the home of a son of pioneer Daniel Brown, who owned most of the land south of the original town Among his brothers was Dr. Benjamin Franklin Brown, the first child born in the Town of Anderson. Already a prosperous merchant and cotton buyer, Elijah Webb Brown at 21 enlisted in the Confederate forces and during Reconstruction was one of Hampton's Red Shirts. His mercantile association after the war was with Bleckley, Brown and Fretwell.
- Poppe House – Built in 1853 by Elizabeth Harrison Earle, widow of Capt. Samuel Girard Earle for her son and his bride, this house was bought in 1862 by Charles Henry Julius Poppe and his wife, Alice, natives of Alsacre-Lorraine. They lived there over 50 years. Poppe operated a unique store on the square remembered for its beautiful dolls and gay window boxes. The house is listed in HABS.
- John P. Sullivan House – This home features distinctive architecture referred to as "Chinese Chippendale." When purchased by Sullivan in 1872, it was "in a state of neglect." Refurbished, it was a showplace until recent years. For a time it was the home of George Bell Timmerman Sr., once associate justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court, and George Bell Timmerman Jr., South Carolina governor (1955-1959) and present circuit court judge, born there in 1912.
- Miss Dena Bleckley's – Built in 1854 by John McFall, this is one of the few houses erected within the town's original boundary which still stands. In turn it was occupied by members of a number of prominent Anderson families: Horton, Kennedy, Vandiver, Bleckley. Edward R. Miles, a refugee from Charleston who for a time was a member of the Confederate Congress, taught school there. Huge boxwoods and trees adorn the grounds and there is a rose bush 100 years old.
- First Baptist Church – At the northern end of the district stands the First Baptist Church, its first brick sanctuary having been constructed in 1855 Despite much remodeling and many additions, the original construction may still be seen. An out-growth of a congregation organized in 1821, its membership is the largest of any church in Anderson County.
- Grace Episcopal Church – The present structure was erected in 1904, replacing an earlier building on the same site. Bishop Ellison Capers conducted the dedication ceremonies. In the earlier church, Confederate General Ellison Capers was a lay reader and his son, later Bishop W.T. Capers of Texas had his first charge here. Judge Milledge Bonham, chief justice of the S.C. Supreme Court, was a warden.
- St. John's Methodist Church - This church is the oldest congregation organized within the original town limits, dating from 1828. The present brick sanctuary was built in 1912, the latest of several churches which occupied the same site.
- Broyles-Acker House – This house was built c.1835 by Samuel Girard Earle and given the same name as his plantation in Savannah Township in Anderson County, "Evergreen." About 1850 the house became the property of attorney A.T. Broyles. In 1904 it became the home of the H.H. Acker family, and was remodelled in the Classic Revival manner. The handsome doorway and dining room cornices date to the Broyles' occupancy.
- Brownlee-Brown House – This house, called "The Cottage," was built c.1880 by Elijah Webb Brown and given to his daughter Hattie Brown and her husband Samuel Davis Brownlee as a wedding gift. Elizah Webb Brown Jr. moved into the house in 1898. His son George William Brown occupied the house until recent years.
- Dooley House – Across the street from the Brownlee-Brown house is the Dooley House, Victorian style, built by Negroes Dave and Ina Dooley c.1900. Dave Dooley was a blacksmith, evidently of some means, and was highly respected in the town. He occupied the house, basically in a white area, until the early 1940's.
- Sullivan-Thompson House – Built c.1879, this was the home of Mr. and Mrs. N.K. Sullivan. Since 1917 it has been the Wade Thompson residence, The Sullivans were parents of the many Sullivan brothers who founded and operated Sullivan Hardware Co. for many years.
- Chenault-Watkins House – Of 20th Century construction (1908), this is a fine home featuring columns. In recent years it has been a dinner club, later offices of a publishing company.
- Bethel AME Church – One of oldest Negro churches in city, on site of original building constructed prior to the turn of the century.
Fuller, Elizabeth Belser (editor). Anderson County Sketches. Anderson, South Carolina: Anderson County Tricentennial Committee, 1969.
Vandiver, Louise Ayer. Tradition and History of Anderson County. Atlanta, Georgia: Ruralist Press, 1928.
Anderson County Courthouse Records
Pendleton District Historical & Recreational Commission Files.
†Badders, Hurley E., Anderson Historic District, nomination document, 1971, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
Street Names: Benson Street, Fann Street, Franklin Street, Hampton Street, John Street, Main Street, Manning Street, McDuffie Street, Morris Street