Located seven miles from the nearest town, the structure known as the Brickhouse is almost as isolated today as it was when it was built in rural Upstate South Carolina 185 years ago. Yet in its prime, it was a central locale that served not only as a large plantation and stagecoach stop, but was said to be a place Confederate President Jefferson Davis rested as he fled south from Richmond in the waning days of the War Between the States.
Today, the all-brick two-and-a-half-story structure shows the ravages of time, with the occasional missing window and cracked mortar evident, yet still retains much of its elegance. While it sits near the corner of a country intersection, trees and vegetation have grown up over the years and it’s easy to miss despite its proximity to the road.
The Brickhouse is described as possessing a simple facade containing evenly spaced nine-over-nine, double-hung sash windows with gauged arches, stone sills and a central-entry door, crowned with a fanlight and decorative arch.
Located approximately seven miles west of the small town of Whitmire and seven miles east of the even smaller community of Joanna, on the Newberry-Laurens county line, the structure possesses a rich history.
Classified as a double-pile I-house, with dual chimneys at both ends, it was built of bricks made nearby, quite possibly by slaves.
The property was originally owned by Dr. Francis Fielding Calmes (1794-1865) and served as a stagecoach stop on the Whitmire-Joanna Road, which today is known as South Carolina Highway 66.
Calmes sold the property, which included several thousand acres, to Major Samuel Young, who transformed it into a major operation, with approximately 100 slaves by the time the Civil War began.
By the final weeks of the war, as the Confederacy crumbled, Jefferson Davis and his cabinet escaped south from Richmond, through Virginia and North Carolina, and into South Carolina.
It’s said that Davis and his entourage stopped at the Brickhouse sometime in April 1865 to water their horses and rest briefly before moving west. The Confederate government would hold its final cabinet meeting on May 2 in Abbeville, SC, and Davis and what was left of his government were captured on May 10 near Irwinville, Ga.
Less than four months after the purported visit by Davis and what remained of the Confederate government, Samuel Young died and the property passed to his son, Rev. William Young, a local Baptist minister, who lived at the site until 1878.
In 1903 the home was purchased by the Riser family. Their descendants still retain ownership of the grand structure.
The Brickhouse is uninhabited today, but the family appears to live in a house just a few hundred feet away, allowing them to keep watch over this majestic edifice.
(Top: The Brickhouse, built in 1830 and located along the Newberry-Laurens county line in Upstate South Carolina.)