The Four Corners of Law: Old SC Statehouse, Charleston County Courthouse Part II

To view the interior of the Old Statehouse at 84 Broad Street, enter from Courthouse Square around the back of the building and go through security. Although the Probate Court is on the third floor, the entire building is solemn and quiet. Enjoy the respite from the heat; there is air conditioning and also a public restroom.

If you like early governmental history, 84 Broad Street is a treasure chest. When you enter, on the opposite side of the staircase is a small touch screen where you can access a narrated film about the building and some of its contents. If you've got the time, I would suggest you briefly explore the building first, then watch the film, and afterwards, explore again.

On the first floor, you'll see the full-length portraits of King George III and Queen Charlotte of England, the royals in power at the time this original Colonial governmental building was constructed in 1753. Additionally, you'll see portraits of proprietary and royal governors of Carolina as you explore this building. There are also portraits and engravings of famous Charlestonians such as John Rutledge, Henry Laurens, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, and General William Moultrie, just to mention a few. Many of these portraits were painted from the originals which remain in public collections here and abroad.

My favorite room is the James L. Petigru Law Library on the second floor. The Charleston Bar Association met in this room after Petigru died in 1863 and named it after him. Petigru, a Charleston attorney, adamantly and vocally opposed to both the nullification effort and later, secession from the United States, managed to enjoy both the respect and friendship of those who agreed and disagreed with him. His original portrait, painted during his life (1789-1863) by an unknown artist, hangs in the library and was purchased from the Petigru family. The library also contains portraits of two South Carolina pioneers: Samuel J. Lee, an African American admitted to the Charleston Bar in 1872, and Hannah R. Axelman, the first woman attorney in Charleston admitted to the Charleston Bar i 1931.

Next week, we will visit the United States Post Office, the third site of the Four Corners of Law.