Kershaw County

It’s easy to cast aside what you have at home in favor of foreign pastures. I’m guilty of it myself. You know, it’s exotic and new, and far far away. But I think that we all owe ourselves, and our local towns closer consideration. Some of my favorite places in the world are right here in South Carolina. With that in mind, I came across a day this past February that I knew I wasn’t going have to work. So I hopped in my truck and drove up to Camden.

The McCaa House c. 1825

The McCaa House c. 1825

While visiting Camden I found out that it’s the oldest inland town in South Carolina. Founded at the behest of King George II in 1732, it was a part of a series of settlements plotted out along South Carolina’s waterways. After the Revolutionary War, when the British were kicked out, they ended up raising a lot of the buildings. Then fire consumed large parts of the town in 1812 and then again in 1829, so unfortunately there aren’t a lot of buildings that survive before 1800.

However, the buildings that did survive are pretty nice. A lot of attention was given to maintaining the towns vernacular architecture. Just go stop by the Bonds-Conway house and you will know what I mean. It’s small, but the town put a lot of resources into getting it right–and it shows. All of the plaster, trim details, proportions, and materials used, show a well researched and dedicated commitment to preserving our built environment.

Image copied from "A Guide to Historic Sites in Camden, South Carolina" a great source for learning about Camden's architecture and history.

Image copied from “A Guide to Historic Sites in Camden, South Carolina” a great source for learning about Camden’s architecture and history.

The town of Camden was quiet, and exhibited the Southern vernacular flavor of Americana. You know… A few cross-roads and store fronts, but the town has it’s own distinct flavor that really makes it worth visiting. I’m sure there is someone who already wrote a book on it, but it strikes me as I write this that the layout of old American towns like Camden are truly a unique feature of our shared architectural tradition. The next time you drive through one, stop and soak it up.

While I was in town, the folks there were exceedingly gracious and I would like to give a special thanks to the kind people at the Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site and the Kershaw County Historical Society for sharing there rich history with me.

Interior of the Bonds-Conway House. Notice the rim lock, flat panels, H-L hinges, and how they plastered up to the door casing. A perfect case study of early American detailing.

Interior of the Bonds-Conway House. Notice the rim lock, flat panels, H-L hinges, and back band casing. Look how they plastered right up to the trim. A perfect case study of early American detailing.

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Mantel Detail from the Bonds-Conway House. Home of the Kershaw County Historical Society

Mantel Detail from the Bonds-Conway House. Home of the Kershaw County Historical Society

 

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