Fireproof Building Charleston Sc Robert Mills Thomas Jefferson

There are many historic buildings in Charleston South Carolina. Perhaps, the most interesting historical buildings in this city is the current home for the Headquarters of the South Carolina Historical Society. Located at 100 Meeting Street, this building was originally known as the Charleston Record Building, but to most of the residents of Charleston it is simply referred to as the fireproof building.

How did this building get it’s nickname? The answer is simple, it got this nickname for one simple reason. Built in 1827, it was the most fireproof building of its time. It is also thought to be the oldest fireproof building in the United States today.

This is a building worth seeing. It cleans lines are done in a simple Greek Doric style. The building is constructed entirely of Stone. The windows are glass with Iron window sashes and Shutters. There was no wood or any other flammable material used in any part of it’s construction.

The raised entrance of the portico faces Chalmers Street, the longest and most famous of Charleston remaining cobblestone streets.

Inside, an oval hall contains a stone cantilevered staircase, or a staircase that is attached to wall but has no stair support on the outside of the steps. This stairway is lit by a small dome or cupola on the roof of the building.

So sound is the construction of this building that when Charleston suffered an earthquake in 1886, the only damage to the fireproof building was to an outer staircase. The inside of the building remained undamaged.

Another interesting facet of this building is the Architect himself. A native of Charleston, Robert Mills was the first native American trained to be an Architect. Some of his other work consisted of being a draftsman for Thomas Jefferson in the designing of Monticello and he was the architect of the Washington Monument.

While studying to be an architect he studied under James Hoban who, later designed the White House.

In 1812, fifteen years before the fireproof building was designed and built Mills was commissioned to design the Monumental church in Virginia. This church was built to commemorate the death of the 72 people who had died in a fire at a nearby theater. This church, and the reason for it, is thought to be the catalyst for Mills interest in designing fireproof buildings.

The fireproof building and its architect are an interesting and important part of Charleston. It is truly a building worth seeing.