Orangeburg’s historic homes and fascinating places the spot gas leak in house


It was during his tenure in the legislature that he built the home that now faces Whitman Street. Completed in 1846, the two-story home is of a style called “plantation,” a conservative form of structure along the lines of Federal architecture.

As war clouds spread across the nation in the 1850s, Glover would add his name along with the 168 other delegates to sign the South Carolina Ordinance of Secession on Dec. 20, 1860. Gen. David Jamison, a neighbor, brother-in-law and president of the Secession Convention, later assigned Glover to a committee tasked with writing a new state constitution.

Historians say Glover’s second wife, Louisa D. (Carrere) Wilson, may have been Sherman’s only defeat in Orangeburg. Acquainted with the Union general prior to the war, the lady of the house reminded Sherman he acted like a gentleman when they met in Charleston and she expected him to continue to behave that way.

Judge Glover died in Orangeburg 19 years after that confrontation in his living room between the Union army and his wife. At the time of his death, he was dean of South Carolina College, having been in the legal profession for more than 64 years.

In fact, the house was originally built on land just a few blocks from the society’s Middleton Street location, rising in the center of “Orangeburgh” at the corner of Windsor and Bull streets. The two-story house featured a basement cellar and “ample piazza,” pegged construction, hand-wrought nails and handmade hardware.

The home’s namesake, Donald Bruce, was a Scotsman who came to the area from Charleston with his daughter and second wife in the mid-1760s. He was a justice of the peace and justice for the governor for Orangeburgh District in 1775. During the Revolutionary War, Bruce served as a representative in the General Assembly. He lived in the home until his death in 1795.

During the Revolutionary War in 1779, the home was used by Gov. John Rutledge to carry out his plans for a “great military company” in the area. Two years later, it served as headquarters for Lord Francis Rawdon, commander of the British forces. Bullet holes in the hidden stairway are said to have been placed there when British soldiers invaded the house.

Today’s installment of “100 Objects: 100 Days” features the iconic symbol of one local restaurant that once catered to the motoring public as well as to locals — the giant coffee pot still perched atop the former Coffee Pot Diner on Bamberg Highway (U.S. 301 south of Orangeburg).

Before they opened the diner in 1950-51, British natives Fred and Emily Griffin had originally planned to open a tearoom. Deciding the busy highway needed a coffee shop instead, the Griffins opened the Coffee Pot Diner. Mrs. Griffin is said to have baked pies each night for the next day’s customers. A traveler could order breakfast and lunch and, of course, plenty of steaming cups of Joe.

In the mid-1950s, President Dwight D. Eisenhower brought home from World War II the idea of the interstate, a road system designed to move military equipment quickly, based on Germany’s Autobahn. South Carolina was to get three interstates: I-20, I-26 and I-95.

The 6-foot-tall coffee pot replica, which has stood as a beacon to travelers for more than 60 years, weighs an estimated 250 pounds. If it could actually brew coffee, it would hold more than 330 gallons of java. At one time, there was a light on its lid to illuminate the night.

Designed along the lines of the English prisons of the day by British architect Jonathan Lucas, the Pink Palace was completed in 1860 after approximately three years of construction. The castle-like structure served as a prison until 1865, when the Union troops of Gen. William T. Sherman burned it. The main foundation, however, stood firm despite extensive damage, allowing it to be completely restored after the Civil War.

Lucas, who by then was married to a woman from Cordova and living in Orangeburg, supervised the renovation of the building. From that time until 1976, it housed an assortment of prisoners. When it was a prison, hard-core criminals lived behind its thick walls. After it became the Orangeburg County jail, it housed only lesser offenders. By the early 1920s, electricity and water had been added at the jail.

It was during the 1950s that the jail got its famed nickname. It was then that late Sen. Marshall Williams’ wife, Margaret, used her influence to have the building painted her favorite color — pink. Williams and her garden club saw to the planting of the two oak trees that still shade the property. Felons soon began to joke about their reservations at the “pink palace.”

The jail became a landmark in the area and was actually entered into the National Historic Register in 1973. In honor of the recognition, the jail was given a massive cleaning, and the entire interior of the building was hosed and scrubbed down.

When the county vacated the Pink Palace in 1976 when the Law Enforcement Complex was completed, the building was vacant for the first time in 116 years. The cost of repairing the facility became cost prohibitive for the county. When Orangeburg City Council approached the county about using the building for a museum, the county transferred the title to the city for only a dollar, and the jail was later painted beige.

By 1989, the city council was forced to lease portions of the building to nonprofit groups and rent out parking spaces in the surrounding lot to help cover the museum’s daily operating expenses. Guthrie and Sifly purchased the building and surrounding property from the Arts Council in 1995 without having any definite plans for its use. The remaining property, in use as a parking lot, was sold to First National Bank.