Nearly 200 years old, the Keitt-Whaley-Pearlstine House sparkles amid the drab brown landscape of late winter in central South Carolina.
The large white two-story clapboard structure features six columns, first- and second-story porches, gabled roofs and touches of Greek Revival style.
Built in rural Orangeburg County, in what later became Calhoun County, near the Old State Road that ran from Columbia to Charleston, the structure’s interior features multiple fireplaces, some with hand-carved mantels with multiple cornices, according to the SC Department of Archives and History.
But for all the architectural appeal of the plantation house, its history is just as interesting.
Constructed between 1820 and 1825 for Dr. and Mrs. George Keitt, the Keitt’s son, Laurence, was born in the house in 1824. He would go onto become one of the South Carolina’s most ardent secessionists.
After serving in the South Carolina General Assembly while still in his mid-20s, Keitt was elected to the US House in 1853. He would be re-elected twice more.
Stephen Berry, writing in Civil War Monitor, described Keitt as the “Harry Hotspur of the South.”
“Keitt … was a Fire-Eater par excellence. Legendary for staging ‘pyrotechnic’ displays on the floor of Congress, Keitt paced his desk, scattered papers before him ‘like people in a panic,’ and pounding ‘the innocent mahogany’ until pens, pencils, documents, and even ‘John Adam’s extracts shuddered under the blows.’”