City Directories and History: (Maxwell-Nicholson House) The Vance-Maxwell House was built around 1850 for Allen Vance. The one-and-one half story upcountry farmhouse was remodeled between 1898 and 1904 in the Second Empire fashion. The Vance-Maxwell House is historically significant for its association with Dr. John C. Maxwell, a locally prominent physician, military surgeon during the Civil War, politician, and philanthropist, who lived in the house from 1871 to 1898. In 1876 Dr. Maxwell was elected to the Senate of the State of South Carolina, in which he served for nine years. He also took an active role in the formation of Greenwood County in the 1890s, and chaired the committee that determined the site for the county courthouse and jail. In 1891, Dr. Maxwell and his wife helped establish the state Baptist orphanage in Greenwood named for the only child of the Maxwell’s to survive infancy. Since its founding, more than 6,000 children have been aided by the Connie Maxwell Orphanage. After the Maxwell’s died, their home reverted to the orphanage. In 1903 it was sold to George Pressly Neel, and insurance maps show that soon thereafter the home was remodeled. The Vance-Maxwell House is architecturally significant for its adaptation of Second Empire elements. During the remodeling, the house was enlarged, adding a full second story and a mansard roof to the original story-and-a-half central hall farmhouse. Listed in the National Register March 5, 1982.
(Courtesy of South Carolina Department of Archives and History)
Further information: Available records, oral tradition, and physical and stylistic evidence indicate that the Vance-Maxwell House is a turn-of-the-century remodeling of an older house. According to Greenwood County Sketches, published in 1970 by a local historian, the Vance-Maxwell House was built for Alien Vance.’ Louise Watson, the daughter of Harry L. Watson, who was the biographer of Dr. John C. Maxwell, maintains that she has always understood that the house was built for Vance. Vance reputedly located in Greenwood after he married in 1840; he died in 1865. or Maxwell purchased the property on which the house sits in 1871. The deed which conveyed the property from Matthew McDonald to Dr. Maxwell supports the belief that Vance built the house. It contains the following description of the property: “All that tract or parcel of land — Situate in the County and State aforesaid, containing twenty three acres, more or less, residence of the late Alien Vance dec ….” A stuccoed chimney with a corbeled cap, which can be seen under the present mansard roof of the Vance-Maxwell House, is physical evidence that the house is a remodeling of an older building. An obvious addition has been made to the chimney so that it extends above the present roof. Dr. John C. Maxwell (1837-1899) was the most prominent resident of the Vance-Maxwell House. When the Civil War appeared imminent, Dr. Maxwell, a physician in lower Abbeville County, enrolled in Captain Ferryman’s “Secession Guards.” The company was eventually attached to the Second Regiment, South Carolina Volunteers. By September 1862 he was commanding the company, then known as Company F. He later became regimental surgeon.
In 1876 Dr. Maxwell was elected to the Senate of the State of South Carolina, in which he served a total of nine years. He was associated with Wade Hampton and the Red Shirts, who broke the Republican Party’s control of the South Carolina legislature in 1876. Dr. Maxwell took an active role in the formation of the county of Greenwood in the 1890s, chairing the committee which determined the site for and built the county courthouse and jail. In 1891 a promise of a gift of 470 acres from Dr. Maxwell and his wife,Sally Richardson Maxwell (1848-1902), helped establish the state Baptist orphanage in Greenwood. The orphanage was named Connie Maxwell Orphanage in memory of the only child of the Maxwells to survive infancy. Since its founding about 6,000 children have been aided through this agency. Dr. Maxwell died in 1899; Mrs. Maxwell died in 1902, and the Vance-Maxwell House reverted to Connie Maxwell Orphanage. In 1903 it was sold to George Pressly Neel, Dr. Maxwell’s medical partner. Insurance maps of Greenwood show that between June 1898 and January 1904 the second story was added to the house. NR File Data / SC Dept. of Archives and History
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