Florence County Library

Florence County Library, photograph by Robert Thomas Mckenzie Jr, Wikipedia, CC-BY-SA 4.0

Location: 509 S Dargan St, Florence, SC 29506

Henry Edward Davis, who worked for the city as an attorney and school board commissioner, wanted the library to be built to honor World War I veterans. In 1923, Davis helped to pass legislation that allowed funding for the public library. The Florence County Library opened in November 1925. 

Frank V. Hopkins and William Wilkins handled the architectural design. Wilkins was also responsible for creating the Poynor school, which you can learn more about on this tour. 

The building has two stories, as well as a raised basement, and is built in Neo-Classical Revival style. This style features columns, pediments, and round arches with exteriors that are symmetrical. 

The last names of prominent American writers are also featured above the windows. If you look up, you should be able to see those names. There are names of world-renowned authors such as James Fenimore Cooper, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edgar Allen Poe, as well as South Carolina authors like Paul Hamilton Hayne. There is also a window for Henry Timrod, a teacher in Florence, who would later have a schoolhouse and park named after him. These places are also featured in this tour.

In July 1964, the Florence Public Library merged with the Florence County Circulating Library to create the Florence County Library system. This merger happened thanks to the efforts of the County Superintendent of Education, the Florence Public Library Board, and the South Carolina State Library. The library expanded, opening branches in the surrounding areas including Pamplico, Johnsonville, Lake City, Olanta, and Timmonsville. 

In 1977, prominent architect J. Russell Bailey was hired to recommend renovations for the building. Bailey was a proponent of modular design, and he consulted on many university libraries throughout the United States, including those at Yale University, the University of Virginia, and the University of Maryland. Bailey’s recommendations for the Florence County Library included outer expansions to wrap around three sides of the building. Local architect James Paul Barnes integrated Bailey’s recommendations into his design for the renovations. 

Visitors are not able to go inside this location, as it is now an office for the Florence School District 1. However, visitors are encouraged to park and walk around the exterior of the building to see the architectural elements.

To learn more about the rich history of the Florence County Library