“Perhaps Chester County’s oldest remaining structure, at Lewis Turnout community.”
City Directories and History: A fine example of mid 18th century log construction, with many original features, built ca., 1770. It is one of very few remaining upcountry inn in South Carolina. The inn was a tavern during Colonial and Revolutionary days and also a stagecoach stop along one of the regions heavily used roads, the Saluda Trail. It was made famous in 1807 when Aaron Burr, the captured Vice President of the United States, slayer of Alexander Hamilton, spent the night here on his way to Richmond, Virginia to stand trial on charges of treason. Legend has it that Burr, escaped
briefly because a bribed maid left his bedroom door unlatched. The inn is a matched two-story house of dovetailed logs. Covered with clapboard, and re-covered with brown shingles in 1923 for most of the 20th century little of the original aspects of the home were visible. The home features a lateral gable roof, with exterior end chimneys, and a small one-story, one room, right wing. The interior features tongue and groove paneling, large mantels, wide board doors with wrought iron hinges and a narrow stairway leading to a second floor hallway on which two bedrooms open. The second floor area had not been painted prior to 2004. Listed in the National Register May 6, 1971.
Aaron Burr in Chester:
After his arrest in 1807 by the legal authorities on the charge of treason, Aaron Burr passed through Chester as a prisoner on his way to stand trial in Richmond, Virginia. When he arrived in Chester, he jumped on a large rock near a local tavern and appealed to the citizens to rescue him from his guards. Some say Burr gave the Masonic sign in hopes that he would not be refused. Not one of the astonished citizens came to his defense and the military quickly put him on horseback again. The soldiers then took him nearby to what is now the Lewis Inn where he spent the night under heavy surveillance.
For what happened at the village of Chester let us quote Parten’s biography of Burr for an eye witness account; “As he (Perkins) approached the principal village of this district, he halted the party, and changed the order of their march, placing two men in front of the prisoner, two more behind, and one at each side of him. In this manner they preceded, without incident, until they passed near a tavern, before which a considerable number of persons were standing, while music and dancing were heard from within. Here Burr threw himself from his horse, and exclaimed in a loud voice., “I am Aaron Burr, under military arrest, and claim the protection of the civil authorities.” Perkins snatched his pistol from his holster, sprung to the ground, and in an instant was at the side of his prisoner. With a pistol in each hand, he sternly ordered him to remount. (Aaron Burr Slept Here, D.S. Brown, 1952)
The rock on which Aaron Burr made his plea was inscribed and placed on a concrete pedestal at its present location by the Mary Adair Chapter of the D. A. R. as testimonial to this event in Chester, S.C.
In 1980, Wade and Cathy Fairey purchased the house from local farmer, Henry Robinson and his wife Cleo, to begin restoration of the dwelling. With their sons Wade, Jr. and Frank, the house was restored over a two year period. During this process, the interior logs were exposed, architectural features uncovered, exterior shingles removed and replace with traditional board siding. The original board and batten siding under the front porch remained intact and was exposed as were porch railings. During the years the family lived here, they also moved a double pin log corn crib from the Rash farm, just south of Rock Hill to the Lewis Inn location. This along with the stabilization of the cotton house in the backyard added additional interests to this important historic property.
The Lewis Inn is most likely Chester County’s oldest remaining structure and could easily date to ca. 1750-60. The current (2012-18) owners, the Scott Carroll family, are maintaining the home beautifully. They have also begun removing modern architectural elements that were added subsequent to the home’s restoration in the early 1980’s by owners who tried to inappropriately modernize the dwelling.
In 2008, the late, Mr. Ronnie Abrams of Newberry County, S.C. offered this information on the Lewis Inn, “I think you may be referring to the story I related on one of my Revolutionary War ancestors, Colonel James Lyles who died on the steps of the Lewis Inn on July 3, 1780, due to illness suffered in his haste to return home to see his new baby daughter Elizabeth…..his only surviving child as well as his plantation which was encamped upon by British officer Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton.” The information on Col. Lyles’ death comes from Justice Belton O’Neal’s Annals of Newberry, S.C.
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SOIL MAP OF THE AREA – 1912
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