It’s fitting then that critical Georgetown County matters are still settled in a nearly 200-year-old courthouse that was designed by the state’s most famous architect.
The Georgetown County Courthouse, drawn up by South Carolina native Robert Mills, the man who also designed the Washington Monument, was built in 1823-1824 for approximately $12,000.
Designed in a Classical Revival style, the structure replaced a previous courthouse that had been damaged by two destructive hurricanes.
Until about four years ago, the structure had continued to serve as the judicial hub for the county, despite being outdated in a number of respects.
Mrs. Cotton Boll, a South Carolina attorney, recalled being involved in a case in the antiquated edifice approximately eight years ago in the middle of a sweltering summer day when the judge stopped the proceedings in order to remove his robe. Fortunately, he was appropriately clothed beneath his judicial garb.
For the past few years, the courthouse has been undergoing an extensive renovation, receiving new carpet and paint throughout, having its ceiling and ductwork replaced, being rewired, and having its heating and cooling system updated.
While the county’s courts have been relocated to a new judicial center, County Council will still meet in the venerable building, as will aspects of the county’s public services department.
Mills (1781-1855) left his mark not only across South Carolina, but all along the East Coast.
Besides designing the Washington Monument, he also assisted James Hoban with the construction of the White House.
Mills also drew up plans for the Department of Treasury building, the US Patent Office Building and the General Post Office in Washington, and courthouses in at least 18 South Carolina counties, several of which survive.
Other Mills’ structures can be found in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Cincinnati, New Bedford and Newburyport, Mass., and Richmond, Va., where he designed the White House of the Confederacy, where Confederate President Jefferson Davis lived during the War Between the States.