548 South Main Street
City Directories and History: (Major J.J. Lucas House) Japonica Hall was built in 1896-97 for Major James Jonathan Lucas, a prominent local railroad builder and businessman. Lucas, who represented Charleston in the state House of Representatives from 1856-1862, and was a prominent Confederate artillery officer in the defense of Charleston during the Civil War, settled in Society Hill in 1865. This two-and-one-half story over basement brick residence is significant architecturally as an important early residential design of Charles Coker Wilson and William Augustus Edwards, noted South Carolina architects. Its primary significance, however, is as an academic expression of turn-of-the-century Beaux Arts or eclectic classicism. Reminiscent of Italian Renaissance palazzos, Japonica Hall features a rusticated first story and a second story emulating a piano nobile with paired pilasters demarking the bays on the second story. The first and second stories are separated by a molded brick band. The cornice is composed of overhanging molding supported by modillions above a denticulated brick course. The projecting hipped-roof central entrance bay has a double door entry with flanking fluted pilasters, sidelights and transom-lights on the first floor, and double glass paneled doors with semi-circular transom-light, a rusticated surround and small flanking windows on the upper floor. A one-story Tuscan veranda is accessed by a wide stair. The four chimneys have corbeled stacks and the hipped roof features finials at the termination of roof ridges.
Additional data: Major J. J. Lucas (1831-1914), who represented Charleston in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1856-1862, and was a prominent Confederate artillery officer in the defense of Charleston during the Civil War, settled in Society Hill in 1865. (1) He had married Caroline Eliza Mclver, a native of Society Hill, in 1861. (2) Major Lucas soon achieved notoriety in local business as a railroad builder, and after its 1898 formation, as a director of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Company. (3) An active member of the Darlington County Agricultural Society, Lucas owned and operated vineyards and a winery in Society Hill. He was among the first in Darlington County to plant camellias (Genus: Camellia japonica), which lent their name to the property. (4) Once abundant, some of the original plantings remain on the grounds. Major Lucas 1 first home, a frame residence located on or near the site of the present-day house, burned c. 1892. By 1896, Lucas had commissioned Charles Coker Wilson (1864-1933), a native of Darlington County and city engineer of Columbia, to design a large brick residence. (5) Wilson had only recently returned to South Carolina from Roanoke, Virginia, where he had practiced architecture and engineering since 1890.(6) Construction on the new house began in 1896, but was not completed until the following have corbeled stacks and the hipped roof features finials at the termination of roof ridges.
No historic outbuildings remain on the site.
Listed in the National Register December 21, 1989. (Information courtesy of the NR Nomination)
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