“What would S.C. architect, Robert Mill say?”
Of the numerous courthouses constructed across S.C., none are more beautiful than those designed by or emulating the architectural style of Robert Mill. Articles and books have been written on his works in the state and as the national architect. Roots and Recall is always excited to offer a look at his work and recently one of our contributors provided us with rarely seem images of the historic Union County courthouse. His work on the Kershaw County Courthouse, also provided a magnificent means of stating to the public, “This Building is Important.” It took little imagination for the illiterate public to understand these buildings were awe-inspiring symbols of authority.
County seats have historically and routinely had a court house, not a courthouse. Federal buildings constructed even during the depression proudly proclaimed on their edifices, this is the court house, two words. So, when did it become one word? What we think is a worthy discussion here, is the change in spelling during the last fifty years. Those of us who work at R&R like to spell it in the traditional way but to allow our audience the opportunity to find their desired pages, we tag the pages as either.
The answer, as always, is found on Google. Take a look at Ngram if you have never been there and see how word usage has significantly changed. Courthouse was rarely used circa 1900, it was two words. But by 1915 – 1920 the two-word term began fading and today is considered incorrect by many.
The Union County Courthouse, sat at the top of a knoll, the start of what would become Union’s commercial district. Besides the handsome building, Mills also designed the accompanying jail. The jail remains intact but a century ago, the old court house was razed to make room for the newer model. In all fairness, it was damaged heavily and couldn’t be repaired. Just as handsome and in very similar style, is that of the Edgefield Courthouse, a structure constructed by Columbia, S.C. antebellum builder, Charles Beck. It is no wonder his works landed him the national recognition he rightfully deserved! I think he would have preferred the traditional spelling of courthouse.
So spell it court house or courthouse, either way, and Roots and Recall will respond with your answers. But for now it seems clear the one word use of courthouse is here to stay!
R&R NOTE: Interestingly, R&R has received few contributions of historic materials from individual sources in the past six or eight weeks. This has been a gift, since we were already months behind in adding data. It has also provided a wonderful opportunity to provide several scheduled public programs across the state. One of these was provided for the Aiken Foundation in Aiken S.C., an uplifting audience of enthusiast supporters of local preservation and thus Roots and Recall. We look forward to working with their organization and the Aiken museum in further showcasing their important and very interesting history of industrialization and architectural achievements.
From the Porch – Blog @ RootsandRecall.com – 8.17.17