South Carolina Department of Archives and History
National Register Properties in South Carolina

Florence Public Library, Florence County (319 S. Irby St., Florence)
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Facade Right Oblique Right Elevation Right Rear
Left Elevation
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Main Entrance Cornice Detail
Window Detail
Left Elevation
Cornice Detail
Left Elevation
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Ceiling Detail
Ceiling Medallion
Balcony Window
Column Detail

The Florence Public Library, built in 1925, is significant as the first truly public library in Florence and as a fine example of Neo-Classical Revival architecture with Beaux Arts influences. The library is also significant as a design by the Florence architectural firm of Wilkins and Hopkins, with William J. Wilkins and Frank V. Hopkins as its principals. The first library in Florence grew out of the practice of Florence attorney Belton O’Neall Townsend, who occasionally lent colleagues and friends books out of his law office as early as the 1870s. In 1903 the Florence Civic Improvement Society established a town library in City Hall on Evans Street. Miss Florence Harllee, daughter of William Wallace Harllee, president of the Wilmington and Manchester Railroad, and the person for whom the city was named, served as librarian. Not truly a public library, it was restricted to patrons with a “membership ticket.” Henry Edwards Davis, a Williamsburg County native, prominent Florence attorney and member of the Florence Board of School Commissioners, was an early advocate of a public library in Florence and took the lead in generating public support for and raising funds for this library. As early as 1920 he urged the funding and construction of a public library in Florence to honor the veterans of the World War. The Florence Public Library is a two-story-over-raised-basement, T-shaped brick veneered building with a concrete foundation, reinforced concrete walls, limestone decorative elements, and a standing seam metal roof. In 1977-78 the library built a large one-story expansion and made extensive renovations to the original 1925 building. Listed in the National Register November 15, 2006.

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