The Andersn Downtown Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. Text below was selected and adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [‡]
Situated in northwestern South Carolina, the town of Anderson was established circa 1827. Although Anderson has grown rapidly and changed much since that time, the Anderson Downtown Historic District, comprised of approximately 102 structures, chronicles a large part of the town's history. Although no longer the geographic center of Anderson, the downtown area is still considered by the citizenry as the heart of town.
The Anderson Downtown Historic District consists of an area which appears very much as it did at the turn of the Century. The Anderson Downtown Historic District is comprised of approximately 97 commercial structures, the County Courthouse, the Anderson City Hall, a Victorian fountain, and two historic monuments. The structures date primarily from the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, and are located in the heart of Anderson's central business district. The courthouse and surrounding square serve as the focal point of the Anderson Downtown Historic District. Located southeast of this commercial district is the residential Anderson Historic District which was entered in the National Register in 1971.
Few of the commercial buildings included within the Anderson Downtown Historic District have been irreparably altered since their construction. The majority of the alterations have been made to the first stories of the buildings, while upper stories have frequently only been covered by new siding. The majority of the buildings are in good condition. Structures are primarily two or three stories high and usually constructed of brick. The majority of the buildings relate to one another in terms of height, scale and construction materials. Patterns of fenestration, cornice moldings and other details also provide continuity.
Key structures in the Anderson Downtown Historic District include:
1. Sullivan Hardware Company Warehouse: This three-story brick warehouse, in the commercial Romanesque style, was constructed in 1909, measuring 91' by 132'. Brick pilasters separate the facade of the building into arched bays. The structure also features a brick corbeled parapet. The Sullivan Hardware Company first opened in Anderson in 1882, dealing mostly in agricultural products and supplies for small textile mills. Since that time, the company has expanded to four warehouses and three retail outlets.
2. Sullivan Hardware Store: This two-story brick Victorian structure was constructed circa 1891. Its facade is virtually unaltered, featuring cast iron decorative work in the Eclectic style. The company is still managed by the grandsons of its founders.
3. Plaza Hotel: Originally known as the Hotel Chiquola, the Plaza Hotel was constructed in 1888 on the site of the old Waverly House. The four-story brick Romanesque style structure has been modified through the years and much of its ornamentation is now gone. It does, however, retain decorative brick work, paired 1/1 windows (some arched), and oriels. (The oriel at the southeastern corner of the structure is three-stories high.) The facade also features brick corbeling and bartizans.
4. Anderson County Courthouse: The third Anderson County Courthouse, this Eclectic style structure was constructed in 1898. Features of this three-story building include curvilinear gables, decorative brick work, a central clock tower, arched windows with stone sills, a raised basement, and tile roof. The courthouse underwent major renovation in 1939. At that time, a tower on its right side was demolished and replaced with a wing identical to the left side.
5. Robert Anderson Fountain: This fountain was erected in 1906 as part of an overall beautification of the courthouse grounds, a project begun in 1905 by a women's group known as the Anderson Civic Association. Constructed of iron, the fountain was made by the Anderson Machine and Foundry Company. Sixteen feet in height, the topmost figure holds an urn from which water cascades into two basins and finally into a reflection pool. The fountain has been restored by the City of Anderson.
6. Formerly known as the Bleckley Building, this structure was constructed circa 1894 by Sylvester Bleckley on what was then known as Granite Row. Used for many years by Brown, Osbourne and Company, it is currently occupied by the Fleishman Store. The second story of this brick building features a central arched double window flanked on either side by 1/1 windows. A cornice molding which originally appeared at the top was removed in the early 1900s. Although architecturally altered, the building is locally significant.
7. National Bank of Anderson: This structure was constructed circa 1883 to house the Anderson National Bank, the first bank organized in Anderson (incorporated circa 1873). Now occupied by Kell-Brooks, this two-story brick Italianate structure features a bracketed cornice and paired arched windows with hood moldings. Alterations have been made to both the windows and door on the first floor, and a large addition to the corner was built in the 1940s.
8. Anderson City Hall: This building was constructed in 1898 at a cost of approximately $10,000. Romanesque Revival in style, this structure features a corner tower with pyramidal roof with finials and bartizans. Originally brick, it was enlarged and stuccoed during the mid-1900s. The interior has been renovated by the City of Anderson.
9. Old Reformer Brass Cannon: Believed to have been used in the Revolutionary War, it became known as Old Reformer in the Red Shirt Campaign of 1876. Brought to Anderson in 1814, it was placed in its present site during the early 1920s.
10. Confederate Monument: Statue of a Confederate soldier, it was dedicated January 18, 1901. It faces the courthouse and commemorates the Confederate Infantry, Artillery and Navy.
11. Sullivan-King Mortuary: 401 North Main. Built in 1909 as U.S. Post Office with James Knox Taylor as supervising architect. Constructed of brick, it features arched windows, brick pilasters, and a tile roof. Although the interior does retain marble floors and a circular metal staircase, it has been altered for its present use. An addition has been made to the rear.
12. The Carnegie Library Bldg.: 405 North Main. Built in 1907 as a library. Brick structure with portico, rusticated quoins, dentil cornice, water table, and 1/1 windows. Adapted for use as an arts center.
13. The John C. Calhoun Hotel at 402 N. Main Street (southeast corner of Sharpe Street) in Anderson is an eight-story reinforced concrete building with a brick veneer. Begun as a local project by the Anderson Community Hotel Corporation in February 1924, and completed the following year, the John C. Calhoun Hotel was designed by James J. Baldwin and Joseph H. Casey, prominent Anderson architects of the period. Fiske-Carter Construction Company, one of South Carolina's largest firms in the 1920's, built the hotel. The John C. Calhoun Hotel played an important role in the development of the downtown business district that served as the governmental, commercial, and cultural center of Anderson County. It was an active hotel for approximately thirty-five years from its construction to the advent of motels in the early 1960's.
The Anderson Downtown Historic District is primarily significant as a well-preserved late 19th/early 20th Century commercial area. The Anderson Downtown Historic District retains a typical town plan with a courthouse square in its center, as well as numerous good examples of Victorian commercial architecture. In addition, Anderson is significant for its role as both a commercial, governmental, and cultural center for Anderson County.
In 1826, by an act of the Legislature, the Old Pendleton District was divided into the judicial districts of Anderson and Pickens. One year later, a commission of five men purchased 130 acres for the formation of the village of Anderson. The property was surveyed by Matthew Gambrell, a member of the commission appointed to select a suitable site for the village, and the town subsequently was laid out by him in numbered tracts and lots. Circa 1828, a two-story courthouse was completed; in 1833, the Village of Anderson was incorporated.
The majority of the early commercial structures were wooden, several of which were destroyed or damaged by fire in 1845. Store buildings and hotels were rebuilt, but it was following the period of Reconstruction that Anderson experienced a period of major construction. Beginning in the 1870s and continuing through the turn of the century, many structures were erected. Many of the present downtown buildings date from that period of growth, and are consequently typical of late Victorian architecture.
Following the erection of a Confederate Monument in 1902, the Anderson Civic Association was organized and created a park around the monument. The downtown beautification program which took place in 1904-05, also included the landscaping of the courthouse grounds and the installation of the Robert Anderson Memorial Fountain. This beautification program also included the planting of trees along streets in the area.
Present-day Anderson in many ways resembles its appearance during the early 20th Century. Although new structures have been built and facades have been altered, the town retains much architectural integrity.
ARCHITECTURE: Spanning the period between 1872 and the present, architecture in the district ranges from the Eclectic Sullivan Hardware Store to the modernistic Bailes Building. However, the majority of the structures in Anderson's central business district date from around the turn of the century. Notable structures include the Sullivan Hardware store and Warehouse, the Romanesque Revival Anderson County Courthouse, the Plaza Hotel, the Anderson County Arts Center, and the Sullivan-King Mortuary.
COMMERCE: With a trading area extending over South Carolina's Piedmont section and into Georgia, commercial and manufacturing enterprises in Anderson developed rapidly from the time of its founding until the Civil War. Following Reconstruction, Anderson's textile-based commerce and industry once again began to prosper. Growth continued throughout the 19th Century into the 20th, climaxing between 1898 and 1907, with one of the greatest periods of building activity in the town's history. It was during this era of prosperity that a large number of the structures comprising the downtown district were built.
Today Anderson remains a trade center for the county and surrounding area. The Downtown Merchants Association, along with city governmental leaders, is presently spearheading a revitalization effort to prevent the deterioration of the city's commercial core.
THEATER/MUSIC: Since its founding, the business district of Anderson has served as the center of cultural activities for the town. According to tradition, the present Masonic Temple was erected in 1889 on the south side of the Courthouse Square, with Anderson's first opera house located on its second floor. For a number of years, this was the scene of concerts and plays presented by traveling companies. With the advent of "moving pictures," theaters began to appear in the city, one of the first being located in the structure at 127 North Main Street. Opening in 1910, it was known as the Electric Theater. Today, Anderson Community Theater productions are held in a building located on the north side of the square.
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Anderson Daily Mail and Independent, Cooperative Centennial Edition, 11 June 1928.
Anderson Daily Mail, 40th Anniversary and World's Fair Edition. 1939.
Anderson Independent, 12 June 1971.
Anderson Intelligencer, Souvenir Edition. Anderson : Clinkscales and Langston, 1896.
Department of Community Planning and Development, Anderson, S.C. An Anderson Historic District Plan for the Revitalization of Anderson's Central Business District, Draft. March 1978.
Dickson. Frank A. Journeys into the Past. Anderson Bicentennial Committee, 1975.
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Norryce, C.W., ed. A General Sketch of the City of Anderson. Anderson: Roper Printing, 1909.
Pendleton, S. C. Pendleton District Historical and Recreational Commission. T. Franklin Acker Collection.
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Statutes at Large of South Carolina, 1882-1884, Vol. XVIII, pp.812-814.
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‡Eric Ballard, Georgianna Graham and Kappy McNulty, Anderson Downtown Historic District, nomination document, 1978, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
Main Street • Market Street • Tribble Street