City Directories and History: The 1984 survey of Laurens included this lovely Italianate mansion in 1979. The survey team named it the Col. John Williams Home circa 1859. It was later sold to a local attorney, B.W. Ball in 1875, who resided here following the Civil War.
Historian C.G. Davidson, recorded the following information in his book, The Last Foray – Williams, Col. John Drayton of “White Plains” plantation “Greenwood” (summer residence) and Laurensville. Born Jan. 20, 1798 (S.C.); married Dec. 20, 1825, Phoebe Cox Young, (Mar. 10, 1810-July 27, 1852) and Feb. 13, 1856, Anna Eliza Barnett; died June 25, 1870. Public Service: Limestone Springs Female High School; Trustee, Laurensville Female College. Slaves 225 (Laurens District).
The Williams-Ball-Copeland House is significant for the contributions made by four of its former residents, John Drayton Williams, Beaufort Watts Ball, William Watts Ball, and Sarah Ball Copeland, to the fields of publishing, politics and government, and civic work. The house is an outstanding example of the Italian Villa style of architecture. Built ca. 1859-61 as a winter residence for Colonel John Drayton Williams (1798-1870), the house was one of at least four in the city of Laurens built in this style; it is the only one that remains intact. The contractor for the house was Dr. John Wells Simpson, who employed skilled, slave artisans in its construction. Dr. Simpson also built the Laurens County Courthouse. John Drayton Williams and Beaufort Watts Ball, the first two owners of the house, were active in state government. Williams served as a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, and the Southern Rights Convention of 1852. He was also a member of the Secession Convention and a signer of the Ordinance of Secession. Ball was a member of the South Carolina Constitutional Convention of 1865 and a State Representative. Ball’s children William Watts Ball and Sarah Ball Copeland were editors of their father’s newspaper the Laurens Advertiser. W.W. Ball later served as editor of The State and The News and Courier. Sarah Ball Copeland served as Chairman of the Library Board of Trustees for twenty-seven years. The house is a two-story brick residence that is stuccoed and scored. The house is situated on the crest of a prominent hill in the western section of the city. To the north of the house are two, small, brick outbuildings which date from the same period as the house. One was originally the summer kitchen and the other was a combination smokehouse and food storage house. Listed in the National Register November 19, 1986. [Courtesy of the SC Dept. of Archives and History]
Additional data: “In 1859, Colonel John D. Williams, with the help of an unknown architect, started the erection of a dwelling of an entirely new architectural style for this part of the country — Italian villa. Two years passed before the building could be occupied, and during this time the Williams family lived in their plantation manor, White Plains, in the lower part of the county.
About 1875, B. W. Ball, lawyer by profession, bought the house. During the Balls’ occupancy of the villa, boxwood lined walks were laid, flower plots extended and modern touches added to the interior. Mason L. Copeland, son-in-law of B. W. Ball, was the next owner of the villa. For some time after Mr. Copeland’s death, the widow, Mrs. Sarah Ball Copeland, and daughter, Miss Beaufort Copeland, continued to live in the house.
The name Hampton Heights was given the mansion when it was acquired by Clyde T. Franks in the late 1950’s. He added a Chinese touch to the interior furnishings, and preserved the original plantings throughout the spacious grounds. Today, the widow, Sadie Fuller Franks, and a daughter, Miss Sadie Franks, are living at Lovely Hampton Heights, on Ball Drive, town of Laurens.”
Information from: The Laurens County Sketchbook, Author – J.S. Bolick, 1973
Trustees of the Laurensville Female Institute included: Thomas Chiles Perrin of Abbeville, Chancellor Job Johnstone of Newberry, and ….
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