Abandoned prison in SC before demolition
Established in 1866, the penitentiary has followed many of the national trends in prison reform to improve the treatment of convicts in South Carolina. The penitentiary was the beginning of a state penal system which would eventually evolve into the current South Carolina Department of Corrections.
The penal reform movement in the United States was one of a number of reform efforts during the nineteenth century. In order to turn criminals into responsible citizens, reformers urged the individual states to create penitentiaries. In such an institution, the convicts were to be isolated from society and the other prisoners as much as possible. This solitude would keep negative influences away from the convict and allow him time to meditate on his wrongdoing. Discipline was strictly enforced with severe punishments for those convicts who disobeyed orders. Also, the convicts were to labor in prison industries which would give them a work ethic and help support the institution. The penitentiary atmosphere was supposed to reform a criminal by teaching him to be disciplined and responsible.
As early as the 1830s, two competing penitentiary systems had been developed. The Auburn system originated with the construction of New York's Auburn Prison in 1816. Under this system, each convict was confined in an individual cell at night and worked in groups during the day. While working in groups, the inmates were required to remain silent. The other system was the Pennsylvania system developed at the Eastern Penitentiary in Philadelphia during the 1820s. This system differed from the Auburn one in that it kept each convict completely isolated from the other prisoners. Labor had to be performed individually in each convict's cell where he would stay constantly. This system necessitated larger cells and a small recreation yard attached to each cell. The more expensive larger cells and the less productive individual labor made the Pennsylvania system the least popular of the two systems. The Auburn style penitentiary quickly became the norm for other state penitentiaries.
Before the creation of the South Carolina Penitentiary, prisons in the state were run by individual counties and used mainly for prisoners awaiting trial. Conditions in these facilities were horrible causing local grand juries to frequently complain. Also, South Carolina's penal code imposed fines and public punishments like whipping rather than long-term imprisonment. The code was severe with one hundred and sixty-five crimes punishable by the death penalty in 1813. It was within this context that prison reformers in the state advocated the establishment of a penitentiary as a way to reform the criminal and make the penal code less severe by having the option of long-term imprisonment. A penitentiary was first discussed in South Carolina by Governor Arnoldus VanderHorst in the 1790s. During the antebellum period, prominent reformers in the state included Francis Lieber and Benjamin F. Perry. However, numerous legislative attempts to create a penitentiary before the Civil War failed. Though South Carolina was the third state to create a lunatic asylum, it was one of the last to create a penitentiary.
With the close of the Civil War, South Carolina finally took a major step towards improving the treatment of convicts by creating the South Carolina Penitentiary. Reasons behind the sudden drive for a penitentiary included the poor financial condition of the counties which ran the entire jail system at the time and the freeing of the slaves. Before the war, slaves were generally punished by their masters. The newly freed African-Americans were now to be punished by the criminal justice system. Also, there was a racist fear that the freed blacks were going to create major crime problems and that the state needed a large facility to imprison them.
At the urging of Governor James L. Orr, the General Assembly passed an act in 1866 creating the South Carolina Penitentiary. The penitentiary was created by the Democratic state government which existed for a short time after the Civil War before the Republicans came to power during Reconstruction. A three-man committee was formed to find a suitable site. A tract of land on the Congaree River in Columbia was chosen because it was on a canal and a river that could provide water power for penitentiary industries. In addition, the site was located in the center of the state and was close to several railroads. The land was purchased from Thomas J. Rawls and the estate of Benjamin Rawls in October of 1866. Thomas B. Lee was hired as the architect and engineer of the penitentiary and construction began in 1867. The South Carolina Penitentiary was to be an Auburn style institution with the main part of the complex consisting of a south and a north wing with an administrative structure between them.
The South Carolina Penitentiary adopted the major reform ideas of the Auburn system including solitary confinement, strict discipline, and group labor. Individual cells for each prisoner were part of the original plan of the complex. However, the goal of solitary confinement was rarely achieved at the penitentiary due to the almost constant problem of overcrowding. The number of cells had already become inadequate by the 1880s with two and three convicts per cell.
Strict enforcement of prison rules was maintained at the South Carolina Penitentiary. The institution operated with military discipline. Those convicts who disobeyed the rules received various punishments. In the early 1870s, the penitentiary abolished certain cruel methods of punishment such as tying up by the thumbs, blind march, spread eagle, and flogging. However, prisoners could still be punished with the dark cell and solitary confinement.
Perhaps the most important reform philosophy of the South Carolina Penitentiary was group prison labor. Labor by the convicts was necessary to teach prisoners the value of work and help support the penitentiary. The two systems of convict labor used at the South Carolina Penitentiary were the public account system and the contract system. The public account system involved convicts laboring in an operation owned and operated by the state. This system was the dominant one under the Reconstruction government before 1877 with convicts working in the granite quarries and workshops needed to construct the penitentiary. The construction of the penitentiary using convict labor was an example of the public account system.
In contrast to the public account system, the contract system leased convict laborers to private companies and to individuals. This includes those convicts who worked within the penitentiary or outside the penitentiary for a private interest. In 1877, the Democrats came back into power with the election of Wade Hampton as governor. Unlike the Republicans who had spent nearly half of a million dollars on the South Carolina Penitentiary during their years in power, the Democrats were reluctant to spend funds on most state institutions including the penitentiary. In his first address to the General Assembly, Wade Hampton argued that the state's institutions should be made as self-sufficient as possible. The General Assembly subsequently passed an act that allowed the South Carolina Penitentiary to lease out convicts as laborers.
The convict lease system became quite popular in the South after Reconstruction. Democrats in southern states adopted the system in order to cut the expense of maintaining a state penitentiary even though the casualty and escape rates were high. Race played a role in the system as well. Since most southern penitentiaries had large black populations, the system was similar to the slave system. Like slave laborers, convict laborers were under the total control of an overseer and were forced to labor for long hours. Abuses also plagued both systems. At the South Carolina Penitentiary, the population was usually around eighty percent African-American throughout its history. Racial tensions were certainly a problem at the institution. The Union League, an African-American group, had accused the penitentiary of treating black convicts poorly during Reconstruction. Later, certain parts of life at the penitentiary were segregated including mess halls, dormitories, and recreational activities.
In 1877, the first two contracts were created for convicts to labor outside the penitentiary under the supervision of private individuals. The private parties in these contracts were the Greenwood and Augusta Railroad and Charles Mayhew who was constructing a dam. Convict leasing became quite popular with railroad and phosphate companies. The leasing of convicts to outside contractors was eventually abolished due to the poor treatment they received. The system did achieve the goal of making the penitentiary self-supporting by 1881.
South Carolina later adopted the chain gang system under which counties could call back their prisoners at the South Carolina Penitentiary to work on roads and highways. Like the convict lease system, chain gangs were popular in the southern states and led to poor treatment of the convicts. South Carolina began the system around the beginning of the twentieth century and strengthened it with further legislation in 1914.
In the meantime, officials at the South Carolina Penitentiary were more interested in establishing industries within the walls of the institution. These industries would generally be operated by a private firm under contract with the penitentiary. The types of industries operated within the penitentiary at different times include a shoe factory operated by A.C. Dibert, a broom factory operated by Lorick and Lawrence, a hosiery mill operated by Columbia Hosiery, a chair factory operated by the Fibercraft Chair Company, a garment mill, and other operations. These prison industries did experience difficulties from the loss of labor to outside companies and later the chain gangs. During the Great Depression, the prison industries suffered from a lack of business and federal legislation such as the Hawes-Cooper Act of 1929 which sought to restrict the shipping of products manufactured by convicts. Even with all of these difficulties and problems of prison labor, the South Carolina Penitentiary still relied on the system to support the institution and teach convicts the value of work.
Despite the conditions of life and labor that developed in the South Carolina Penitentiary, it is important to view its origins as a genuine effort to improve the treatment of convicts in the state. There were the dark sides of the institution's history including convict leasing, chain gangs, and poor race relations. Even so, the South Carolina Penitentiary represented a significant step towards more humane treatment of the state's prisoners. When compared to the antebellum county jails, the South Carolina Penitentiary was a major improvement. However, the desire of the state government to keep the penitentiary profitable stood in the way of better conditions for the convicts.
Besides its role in improving the treatment of prisoners in the state, the South Carolina Penitentiary is also significant for its role in the development of a state penal system and the transfer of penal responsibilities from the counties to the state government. The penitentiary was the first state penal institution in South Carolina when founded in 1866. Throughout its history, the South Carolina Penitentiary has expanded its role and its operations. The institution bought the DeSaussure Farm in 1890 and the Reid Farm in 1896 to work with convict labor. In 1900, the institution founded a reformatory for boys in Lexington County. By 1938, a women's penitentiary had been established on the Broad River. These and other facilities which came out of the original South Carolina Penitentiary formed the nucleus of what would become the South Carolina Department of Corrections in 1960.
In 1962, Ellis McDougal became the director of the Department of Corrections and soon changed the name of the South Carolina Penitentiary to the Central Correctional Institution. The facility remained in use until January of 1994.
The Boundary Wall (1860s-1882):
The Boundary Wall was a significant part of the original South Carolina Penitentiary, since it was designed to prevent escapes by the convicts. Begun in the late 1860s, the wall was not finished until 1882. The structure was built with granite as the foundation for the wall and brick for the actual wall topped with granite coping. Superintendent J.B. Dennis stated in 1873 that he planned to replace the brick wall sections with granite as soon as possible. However, the brick wall was never replaced with a granite wall. While the permanent wall was being constructed, a temporary wooden one surrounded the penitentiary. The long delays in construction led the superintendent of the penitentiary to complain that his institution had no secure wall while the South Carolina Lunatic Asylum had a well-built brick wall. From 1882 until 1944 the Boundary Wall served an important function at the South Carolina Penitentiary.
The North Wing Cell Block (1860s-1886):
Contrary to popular belief, the extant cell block that dominates the penitentiary complex today was not the first permanent building erected at the penitentiary. The North Wing Cell Block was a significant part of the South Carolina Penitentiary from its completion in 1886 to 1944. Today, the cell block is known as Cell Block One. Part of the original plan for the penitentiary, most of this cell block was built after the South Wing Cell Block was completed around 1870. The South Wing Cell Block was a five-story structure with five tiers of cells back to back. Built in the late 1860s, the building was the first permanent structure built at the penitentiary and served as a cell block until its demolition in 1927. The foundation work for the North Wing Cell Block was begun during the late 1860s. Actual construction on the cells began around 1871 using convict labor and granite from nearby quarries around the Columbia Canal and the Broad River.
By the early 1880s, penitentiary officials were anxious for more cells since two or three convicts were in each existing cell. The completion of the North Wing Cell Block would solve this overcrowding problem and allow the penitentiary to have one convict per cell as originally planned. Superintendent T.J. Lipscomb complained in 1883 that the General Assembly had not provided adequate funds for construction and drew comparisons between the facilities of the penitentiary and those of the South Carolina Lunatic Asylum which were much better. He also argued that it would be impossible to reform a prisoner without treating him well and having one inmate per cell. Finally, in 1886 the entire North Wing Cell Block was completed. The number of cells for men at the South Carolina Penitentiary doubled from two hundred fifty to five hundred. In 1932, one hundred two cells were added to the North Wing Cell Block. Placed in the cell block to relieve the overcrowding of the early 1930s, these steel cells were later removed.
The five-story granite building has a fortress-like appearance with its walls crenelated at the top. The most significant design features are inside the cell block. The South Carolina Penitentiary was an Auburn style institution and its architecture reflected this fact. The Auburn style cell block was based on the second wing of the Auburn Prison built in 1819. This structure had five tiers of cells opening onto catwalks. The tiers were in two rows back to back inside the exterior walls which provided an outer shell. The structure was masonry with arched cells of brick. Instead of wooden doors to the cells, the Auburn cell block had doors of iron grating. Since the Auburn system was based on solitary confinement in cells only at night, the cells were rather small. This differed from the buildings of the Pennsylvania system which had larger cells arranged against the outer walls, an outside yard for each cell, and no tiers.
The North Wing Cell Block is essentially an Auburn style cell block. The structure has five tiers of brick cells with iron grating for doors. Since convicts were in the cells only at night, the cells are small. The one main difference between the North Wing Cell Block and the Auburn cell block is the placement of the cells. In the North Wing Cell Block, the cells are placed against the outer walls rather than back to back within the structure. This variation of the Auburn style was known as the Baltimore pattern which became popular in the South and the West. The North Wing Cell Block is a significant example of nineteenth century cell block design.
The Electric Chair Building (1912):
The Electric Chair Building was the result of an effort to improve the manner in which executions were carried out in South Carolina. Electrocution was first used in 1890 by the state of New York. The method was seen as progressive since it supposedly gave the condemned person a painless death. As a result, the electric chair soon became popular and was adopted by a number of states. In 1912, South Carolina became the eighth state to use this device to carry out an execution.
The adoption of electrocution was not the first change that the state had made in the way convicts were executed. In 1878, South Carolina abolished public executions in an effort to improve the system. Before the adoption of the electric chair, executions were carried out by hanging in the individual counties. The 1912 act adopting electrocution represented an attempt to make executions more humane as well as another transfer of penal responsibilities from the counties to the state. This act ordered the South Carolina Penitentiary to construct the necessary facilities to house the electric chair which would replace hanging as the state's form of execution. The individual county was to pay for transporting a condemned convict to the penitentiary between two and twenty days before the execution date. The act was passed by the General Assembly on February 17, 1912.
The Electric Chair Building was constructed in 1912 to house the electric chair. The structure was designed by the firm of Todd and Benson of Charleston and built at a cost of just over eight thousand dollars. The penitentiary contributed materials and labor. This structure was the scene of two hundred and forty electrocutions between 1912 and 1962. Among those convicts electrocuted in this building was George Stinney, Jr., a fourteen-year-old African-American who was accused of killing two white girls near Alcolu in Clarendon County. Despite appeals from several unions and other individuals, Governor Olin D. Johnston refused to grant clemency and Stinney was electrocuted on June 16, 1944. Stinney was the youngest person ever legally executed in South Carolina at the time. Today, the building is known as the Death House.
The Richards Building (1927-1928):
The Richards Building was a significant part of the South Carolina Penitentiary from 1927 to 1944. Built as a women's building, the structure was badly needed since the older facility for women was in horrible condition. Throughout the 1920s, penitentiary officials had complained of the conditions in the old building for women. These conditions in the building created fire and health threats. In fact, the State Board of Health had condemned the building before 1920. Finally, by 1927 efforts were underway to demolish the original South Wing Cell Block and replace it with a new women's building.
A total of eighty-five thousand dollars was allocated to tear down the South Wing Cell Block and replace it with the new building. The new women's building was built partially with material salvaged from the demolished South Wing Cell Block and was finished in early 1928. The building was named in honor of John G. Richards, the governor of South Carolina at the time. When finished, the Richards Building was praised as one of the most modern women's prison facilities in the nation.
The Richards Building was the scene of a prison riot on December 12, 1937. Six convicts went to the office of Captain J. Olin Sanders located in the building. Using a knife made from an ice pick and a wooden gun, the six convicts held Sanders hostage for several hours. They demanded that a car be brought to the building and that they be allowed to leave. Governor Olin D. Johnston gave orders to shoot tear gas into the building. The six convicts came out only after killing Captain Sanders. The Richards Building also housed the solitary confinement cells known as "Cuba." In 1938, the female convicts were removed from the central penitentiary to a new women's penitentiary elsewhere.
The Richards Building is architecturally significant. Like the North Wing Cell Block, this building's exterior is made from granite and has a fortress-like appearance with the walls crenelated at the top. The Richards Building also has Egyptian Revival influences. This style was first used at a prison in 1832 with the completion of the Moyamensing Debtor's Prison in Philadelphia and the New Jersey State Penitentiary in Trenton. However, the building that popularized the use of Egyptian Revival architecture for prisons was John Haviland's 1838 New York City Halls of Justice and House of Detention or The Tombs. The Richards Building reflects the use of this style at prisons with its Egyptian Revival doorways and the way in which the crenelated tops of the walls curve outward.
The Chair Factory Building (1932):
The Chair Factory Building was built in 1932 to house an important industry at the South Carolina Penitentiary. Established in 1917, the chair factory was operated by the Fibercraft Chair Company and was an example of the contract system of prison labor. The earlier buildings of this factory were destroyed in a major fire at the penitentiary on April 6, 1932. In 1930 and 1931, reports had warned penitentiary officials of the danger of fire due to the congestion at the chair factory with excelsior on the floor and the lack of a working water hydrant at the prison. The 1932 fire destroyed about one-third of the penitentiary including most of the industrial buildings and was one of the most severe losses of state property at the time.
Rebuilding the chair factory was a top priority for the penitentiary due to the loss of six to twelve thousand dollars in revenue per month. The General Assembly passed a bill authorizing the penitentiary to borrow forty thousand dollars to rebuild. However, the new building was built with insurance funds and no money was borrowed. J.B. Urquhart of Columbia was the architect for the factory building and the firm of W.A. Crary and Son of Columbia was the contractor having underbid eighteen other firms with a price of around sixty-five thousand dollars. Construction began in May of 1932 and involved convict laborers. The new structure had three stories and housed the entire chair factory which had been housed in seven smaller buildings before the fire. To avoid another disaster, the building was made to be fireproof and included a sprinkler system. It also included two freight elevators from the Otis Elevator Company.
Once in the new building, the chair factory regained its place as a major prison industry. For example, the average number of workers at the plant in late 1939 and early 1940 was one hundred and thirty-eight. By the early 1950s, all of the penitentiary's industries had been moved into the Chair Factory Building. From 1932 to 1944, the building was vital to the industrial operations of the South Carolina Penitentiary.
The Mess Hall Addition (1932):
The Mess Hall Addition was constructed for extra space to feed the convicts at the South Carolina Penitentiary. Originally, the building was one-story and apparently served as a mess hall for African-American prisoners. Around 1937 or 1938, a second floor was added to relieve overcrowding and to enable the penitentiary to feed all of the prisoners at once rather than in groups. More recently, the building was used as a commissary.
The Shop Building (1934-1935):
The Shop Building housed several workshops at the South Carolina Penitentiary from 1935 until 1944. The building replaced the three-story Federal Building which was destroyed by fire in October of 1934. The new building was built as a two-story structure using part of the walls of the old Federal Building. The Shop Building housed a grist mill, carpenter shop, garage, cold storage plant, and other storage areas.
Griffith Hospital (1937-1938):
The Griffith Hospital played an important function at the South Carolina Penitentiary as a center of medical treatment for the inmates from 1938 to 1944. This structure replaced an earlier hospital building which was built in 1905. The earlier building was a tuberculosis hospital and was constructed due to the large number of deaths at the penitentiary from tuberculosis. The building was named in honor of D.J. Griffith, the superintendent at the time of its construction. Unfortunately, the building was lost in the 1932 fire which also destroyed the chair factory previously discussed. The ruins of the building remained standing in the penitentiary yard for several years before the structure was rebuilt as a new hospital facility.
The 1936 General Assembly appropriated fifty thousand dollars for the construction of a new general hospital at the South Carolina Penitentiary. The building was originally planned as a Public Works Administration project, but these plans were changed after the proposal was delayed by officials with that agency. Penitentiary officials decided to construct the building with prison labor which would give work to fifty convicts. Begun in June of 1937, the hospital was completed in January of 1938 at a cost of around forty thousand dollars. Named Griffith like its predecessor, the new three-story hospital building had room for one hundred patients and included facilities for dental work. A sun porch was included on the south side for tuberculosis patients. The hospital itself was moved to another building in 1958 after the Griffith Hospital was condemned by the Columbia City Fire Department and the health department.
The South Carolina Penitentiary is a complex of buildings and structures located near the downtown area of Columbia, South Carolina. Defined as the original seven-acre penitentiary tract, the complex contains twenty-six buildings and structures. this nomination. The buildings are between one and five stories tall and built of granite or brick. In general, they have a massive appearance and few decorative elements. Several are reflective of the prison design ideas popular during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Most of the eighteen newer buildings are in the northern end of the penitentiary. These buildings are made of brick and have one to three stories.
Throughout its history, the South Carolina Penitentiary has had an urban setting within the original city boundary of Columbia. The complex is currently surrounded by the city's water treatment plant to the north, office and residential areas to the east, the South Carolina State Museum and industrial property to the south, and the Columbia Canal and Congaree River to the west. Historically, the penitentiary has been in an area with a mix of residential and industrial properties. Though no longer extant, a railroad spur once ran adjacent to the penitentiary providing transportation for supplies and goods. While the surroundings of the South Carolina Penitentiary have changed, the basic urban character of the complex's setting has remained constant.
The South Carolina Penitentiary is a sprawling complex with buildings dating from the 1860s to the 1960s. The southwestern corner of the complex has historically been the area of industrial buildings. Today, the area contains two brick industrial buildings with two and three floors. Near these two buildings is a two-story brick structure which has served as a mess hall and a commissary. The above three buildings are similar in appearance with few decorative elements. Most of the open space between these buildings is covered by asphalt with small stretches of grass in certain corners. Together with the massive brick wall on the western side of the penitentiary, the three above buildings give this corner of the complex the appearance of an industrial area.
The northwestern end of the penitentiary contains several buildings. Near the industrial buildings is a three-story stuccoed building. Adjacent to this structure is a one-story brick building. In the northwestern corner of the penitentiary is a maximum security area that contains a brick cell block surrounded by a brick wall with two guard towers. The open space between these buildings contains a few paved paths and several areas of grass lawns.
Most of the buildings of the eastern side of the penitentiary are connected to a corridor that runs the length of the complex. This telephone pole design was popular for prisons when the South Carolina Penitentiary was redesigned in the late 1940s. The southern end of this side of the complex contains several buildings including two massive granite buildings. One is a five-story cell block with brick cells arranged against the outside walls. The other granite building is a two-story structure built to house convicts. The third building in the southeastern area of the penitentiary is a one-story brick structure designed for electrocutions. Other buildings in this area include several one-story brick buildings and a chapel with a gabled roof.
The northeastern end of the South Carolina Penitentiary contains nine brick buildings all of which are connected to the corridor. This corner of the complex has a very uniform look since all of its buildings date from the same general time and have similar appearances.
The Boundary Wall (1860s-1882):
The Boundary Wall is a prominent structure at the South Carolina Penitentiary. Its foundation is made of large blocks of granite with the actual wall being constructed out of brick. The wall's coping is made of granite. The pattern of the brick is one course of headers between every three courses of stretchers. A couple of guard towers rest on top of the wall.
Sections of the wall on the canal side have been replaced and repaired during the penitentiary's history. Several nineteenth and early twentieth-century industrial buildings were built with their western walls forming parts of the Boundary Wall. This is the reason for the windows in the wall along the southern end of the canal side of the structure. During the 1930s, these industrial buildings were destroyed by fire. Sections of the wall were damaged and destroyed by these fires. The penitentiary repaired and replaced the damaged areas of the Boundary Wall. These sections of the Boundary Wall still date from its period of significance and maintain the look of the original wall. With the penitentiary's building program after World War II, large parts of the Boundary Wall were removed. The sections that remain are the entire west side along the Columbia Canal and part of the north side of the wall. The remaining wall has its historic appearance.
The North Wing Cell Block (1860s-1886):
The North Wing Cell Block is a five-story granite structure built to house two hundred and fifty convicts at the South Carolina Penitentiary. The exterior of the rectangular building has a typical penitentiary look since it has a massive appearance like a fortress. In addition, narrow iron grating covers the small window openings and the walls are crenelated at the top. A brick flue is visible on the northern facade of the building. The southern and western facades have their first-floor sections concealed by brick structures built against the cell block during the building program after World War II.
The interior of the cell block is arranged with five tiers of arched brick cells against the outer walls. A courtyard is created in the middle of the structure with five tiers of cells surrounding it on all sides. The entrance into the building is on the south side. Each cell has one small window in the building's exterior wall. The cell doors are nineteenth-century grated iron doors that open onto narrow catwalks. The catwalks above the first level are supported by nineteenth-century iron brackets. A staircase is located on the south side of the interior courtyard and climbs to the fifth tier of cells. A nineteenth-century locking mechanism for the cell doors is still contained in the building. In 1932, one hundred and two steel cells were placed in the center of the building and later removed. The North Wing Cell Block has undergone a few minor alterations including the installation of plumbing beginning in 1938 and grating on the catwalks opposite the cell doors. Considering its age and length of service as a cell block, the structure has had surprisingly few alterations.
The Electric Chair Building (1912):
The Electric Chair Building is a one-story brick structure built to house South Carolina's electric chair. The rectangular structure is a relatively small building at the South Carolina Penitentiary. The brick pattern is common bond with a row of headers between every five rows of stretchers. The south facade of the building contains a single doorway on its eastern end and no windows. The east facade has a single doorway in its center covered by a small projecting roof. The seven window openings on the building's east facade are asymmetrically arranged with four north of the door, two south of the door, and a smaller one above the door. The two south of the door and the one above the door are covered over with bricks. The other windows are covered with iron bars. All of these window openings are near the top of the facade above the level of the door. A cornerstone at the south corner of the east facade of the building states that the structure was designed by Todd and Benson of Charleston and built in 1912. It also gives the superintendent and board of directors at the time of the building's construction. The north facade of the Electric Chair Building has two window openings on either end where two hallways are located in the structure. The west facade has an appearance similar to the east facade with seven window openings and no doorways. The walls of the south, west, and north facades extend beyond the roof and include brick corbelling near their tops. The exterior of this building retains its original appearance.
The Richards Building (1927-1928):
The Richards Building is a two-story rectangular housing structure built of granite blocks. Like the neighboring North Wing Cell Block, the Richards Building has a massive fortress appearance which was seen as appropriate for prison buildings. Its windows are covered by metal bars. Exterior doors on the north and east sides of the building are made of metal bars as well. The Richards Building has decorative features which show Egyptian Revival influences. The structure's north facade includes an Egyptian Revival doorway in its center. Two similar doorways are located on the building's east facade. In addition, there is a granite stone over the doorway on the north facade with the date 1927. The Egyptian Revival influences of the Richards Building are seen in the way in which its walls are crenelated. The crenelated tops of the walls curve outward in the manner typical of the tops of Egyptian Revival buildings and doorways. At one time, the building had a guard tower on top of its roof which has since been removed. Though the interior has been altered in major ways, the exterior of the Richards Building has undergone few changes.
The Chair Factory Building (1932):
The Chair Factory Building is a three-story brick building with a "T" shape. This industrial building was constructed to house the South Carolina Penitentiary's chair factory. Along the east facade are three stairwells that protrude out from the building. One of these is at the end of the wing on the building's east side which forms the "T" shape. The other two are on the main rectangular part of the building on either side of the wing. In addition, two elevator shafts are visible above the flat roof. The brick pattern is one row of headers between every five rows of stretchers. A granite belt runs above the first floor on all of the building's facades. The brick walls step in at the granite belt. In addition, another granite belt runs above the third-floor windows. Overall, the different elevations of the structure have the same appearance. Three one-story wings are on the building's east facade. Some of these wings may be original since they have the same appearance as the building's main section. If the wings are not original, they were probably added during the late 1940s or early 1950s after all prison industries were consolidated into the Chair Factory Building. Large pieces of machinery rest on the roof of the one-story wing in the northeastern corner of the "T" shaped building. All three of the wings are quite small relative to the size of the building and they are of the same style as the original building with brick construction and granite coping covering the tops of their walls. The Chair Factory Building still retains most of its original look.
The Mess Hall Addition (1932):
The Mess Hall Addition is a two-story brick building with an "L" shape. The north end of the structure is square while the south end is rectangular. The building has an exterior metal staircase which goes to a door on the second floor of the north side. The newer mess hall was built against the southeastern sides of this building. The Mess Hall Addition was built as an one-story structure in 1932 with a second floor being added around 1937 or 1938. The building has its late 1930s appearance.
The Shop Building (1934-1935):
The Shop Building is a two-story brick building in a rectangular shape. The brick pattern is one row of headers between every three rows of stretchers. The north facade includes a large doorway in the center of its first floor and a round opening for a fan in the center of the second floor. Large doorways are on either side of the center door on the first floor and on either side of the center fan opening on the second floor. In between and on either side of these doorways are rows of windows, many of which are covered over with bricks. Other windows on the building's facades are covered with metal bars. Protruding out from the west end of the north facade is a one-story cement block wing. This addition was built at an unknown time. There appears to have been some small doorways added where window openings had been on the different facades of the building. The east elevation has a similar appearance to the above one with a plain facade including many window openings covered up by bricks. A metal staircase leads up to a door on the second floor of the east side of the building. The south facade of the structure has two rows of windows included some covered over by bricks. Although this building has undergone significant changes, it's general appearance is still original.
Griffith Hospital (1937-1938):
Griffith Hospital is a three-story stuccoed structure with a rectangular shape. The east facade is the main entrance with several decorative elements. This facade is divided into three bays by four vertical protrusions which run for most of the height of the structure. The walls of this facade and the others of Griffith Hospital step in just above the ground. In the center of the facade is a doorway that protrudes out from the building. The doorway has the appearance of massive stones with an arched entrance into the building. The door into the structure is made of bars. Two smaller doorways are on either side of the main entrance. Three windows are on the second story of the east facade with one in each bay. These windows and most of the others of the building are narrow openings covered by one vertical bar and numerous horizontal bars. On the third floor and in the center of this elevation is a stone which states that the building replaced an earlier hospital which was named for Superintendent D.J. Griffith and destroyed by fire in 1932. The stone gives the board of directors, superintendent, architects, and builders. Two windows are on the third floor on either side of the above stone.
The south facade of Griffith Hospital has an extension that is one bay wide and five bays long. The extension is centered on the south facade with one bay on either side of it. The bays of this extension are separated by six pilasters which have decorative moldings at the top of the building. The first floor of this extension has one small door and several small windows covered with bars. On the second and third floors of this extension are large window openings in each bay. The window openings cover most of the wall space of these two floors and are covered with metal grating. The window opening to the east of the center one on the second floor is covered by a metal sheet with a door in its center. A metal staircase comes up to this entrance. Above the third-floor windows are small pieces of molding with dentils separated by the top decorative sections of the pilasters. This extension has been altered during the building's history. The original appearance included large windows on the first floor of this facade like those on the second and third floors. In addition, the doorway on the second floor and the staircase leading to it are not original. This extension was built to act as a sun porch for patients suffering from tuberculosis. The structure would allow for good ventilation and much sunlight.
The west and north facades of Griffith Hospital are divided into bays like the other facades with small narrow windows one all three floors. These two facades have few decorative elements. The building's roof is flat. With a few minor alterations, this hospital structure maintains its original look.