Lancaster County Courthouse

Also known as: Old Lancaster County Courthouse
104 N. Main St., Lancaster, South Carolina

Superb craftsmanship, the building was in constant use as a courthouse from 1828 to 2008.


Lancaster County Courthouse


Photo from the Historic American Buildings Survey

View photos at Library of Congress


Street View 


The historic building served as a court house from the time it opened it's door in 1928 until August, 2008 when an arsonist set fire to it. It has the distinction of being the second oldest building in Lancaster, SC, five years younger than the old jail on West Gay Street. While the courthouse design is more Palladian than classic, the portico is more in the Roman revival tradition. Built of flemish-bond brick, an estimated 300,000 slave-made bricks were used for construction by contractor Alsobrook. (SOURCE:

1828 -- Designed by Robert Mills, who also designed the old jail a few blocks over, the court house opens this year. It features fine reeded woodwork and vaulted ceilings. A series of double barrel brick vaults supports the second floor and forms the ceiling of the first.

June 4, 1909 -- The Confederate monument in front of the courthouse is dedicated on this date with thousands attending. It is made of Stonesboro granite from Lancaster County. The soldier on the monument is Captain Amos McManus of Lancaster County.

1913 -- The courthouse has the distinction of being the site of the last witch trials to take place in the United States.

1971 -- It is added to the National Register of Historic Places.

1979 -- The main court room is renovated.

Aug. 4, 2008, the courthouse is heavily damaged, but not destroyed, by an early morning fire. The fire was purposefully set. September 19, 2008 -- A local 17-year-old, Martavious Carter, admits to setting the fire while being interviewed for other crimes he had recently committed.

Post-2008 -- It is replaced as a working court house by a modern structure built next door and now serves as a visitors center for Lancaster.

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on February 24, 1971
Reference number
Architectural styles
Late 19th and 20th Century Revival: Classical Revival; Other architectural type; Roman Revival
Areas of significance
Politics/Government; Architecture
Levels of significance
National; State
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic function
Current function
Period of significance
Significant year
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 1
Non-contributing structures: 3

Update Log 

  • March 6, 2017: Updated by Joseph Hinson: Added "old" to name to denote it is no longer an active court house
  • November 6, 2013: New photos from Michael Miller
  • November 30, 2012: Updated by Joseph Hinson: New photos and updated history
  • November 30, 2012: Photo imported by Joseph Hinson

Related landmarks 



Lancaster, SC County Court house
Posted November 30, 2012, by Joseph Hinson (joethephotog [at] yahoo [dot] com)

South Carolina

I updated this page with six modern-era photos as well as details of an arson that nearly destroyed the building. See also the new sources.