City Directories and History: The circa 1841 Historic Cornwell Inn was built by Elijah Cornwell on property he acquired in October of that year. “The Inn” is unique in
a multitude of ways in spite of a plain exterior appearance. South Carolina has few surviving buildings with the direct link to antebellum period transportation, especially one in a rural location. The Cornwell Inn is one of South Carolina’s surviving early stagecoach stops on a main state road, the Charlotte to Charleston Road. It is also connected with the Charlotte and South Carolina Railroad, one of the nation’s earliest regional rail lines. The ca. 1841 original portion of the
Federal style inn (the northern half of the building) is a one-and-one-half story, five bay double pitched gable roof, heavy-timber frame and weatherboard building set on granite piers, and has two exterior end chimneys with free standing chimney stacks. The ten-foot deep, full length porches on both the west and east elevations were probably part of the original building plan. Soon after the original portion was completed, an addition with a full basement was added to the south elevation of the inn. This one-and-one-half story, five bay, double-pitch gable roofed, frame provided additional living space in the full basement, probably for the domestic servants necessary for the operation of an inn. Listed in the National Register February 18, 1994. [Courtesy of the S.C. Dept. of Archives and History – Research for this application was provided by Risher R. Fairey of Columbia, S.C.]
The Yorkville Enquirer reported on Jan. 8, 1880 – “Mr. Wash McKeowen lot his gin house and mill to fire.”
REFUELING STOPS: Killian’s Mill, Campbell’s Mill, Ridgeway (Fairfield Co), Simpson’s (Fairfield Co), Robertson’s (Fairfield Co), Winnsboro (Fairfield Co), Albion (?), White Oak, Youngsville, Blackstock, Cornwell, Chesterville, Lewis T. O., Smith’s T. O., Ebenezer / Rock Hill (Along the Landsford Road, by Wm. B. White, Jr. Vol., I – 2008)
Other sources state that distinguished visitors to the Inn included former Confederate General Wade Hampton and John C. Calhoun. [CRPC] Mr. Elijah Cornwell was certainly one of the regions wealthiest individuals and upscale farmers, who could yield a great deal of influence. The 1860 census states, he was worth over $56,000., at a time when prosperous planters often reported having assets of less than $10,000.
The Cornwell Inn was lovingly restored by Joanna Angle’s preservation firm, Angle and Chisholm, Inc., in 1993. At that time the Inn was measured some 30′-80′ and shows several periods of architectural changes.
One of the very distinct features of this dwelling are its dovetailed and wedged doors that appear infrequently throughout the northern Piedmont sections of primarily Chester and York counties. The site of the inn as shown on the Google map is the approximate location, on private property.
Historian Harvey S. Teal’s Post Office Data in S.C., states: “James Boyd acted as the first Postmaster of the post office at Cornwell’s Turnout, south of Chester. The PO operated from ca. 1853 – thru the Civil War.” Also, “the Springwell Post Office, later Cornwell’s, operated from 1851 – 1853 by Postmaster Elijah Cornwell.”
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