The York Historic District [†] consists of approximately 180 structures located in the significant downtown commercial and residential areas of York, South Carolina. Established as the county seat, York has continuously served as a political center for York County.
In 1785, York County was created by an act of the South Carolina Legislature. A centrally located site called Fergus Crossroads was chosen to be the county seat and became known as Yorkville. This name was shortened to York in 1915. By 1823 York had a population of 451 people, with some 80 houses, 8 stores, 5 taverns, 2 academies, a post office and a printing office. York's growth and prosperity was such that it was officially incorporated in 1841. By 1861 the town's population approached 1,500, and York had the second highest per capita income in the state. By this time York considered itself to be "the Charleston of the Upcountry," having developed substantial commercial and residential areas.
With the coming of the Civil War, York County sent 16 Companies into the Confederate Army. During the Reconstruction Era, York became a major center for Ku Klux Klan activities, and as a result, Federal troops were stationed in the town. The close of Reconstruction brought a more peaceful era to the town.
The early 1890s saw the beginning of the growth of the textile industry in York, and the presence of Cannon Mills and Springs Mills had a large effect on the town's growing economic prosperity. In addition, in 1929 York became the Winter Headquarters for the Barnett Brothers Circus.
Today, the York Historic District's visual appearance is primarily that of a 19th and early 20th century town. Although there are numerous structures from the early settlement of the town, the majority of the residential and commercial structures were constructed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The boundaries of the York Historic District have been drawn to include the majority of the town's historic properties, with a minimum number of intrusions. The historic commercial area is located in the center of the town and is surrounded by historic residential areas on the north, south, east and west. The area southeast of the commercial area contains several outstanding residences, but it is separated from the commercial area by a strip of modern buildings. These modern buildings do not conform with the historic district and have been deleted. The district therefore consists of two non-contiguous areas.
The York Historic District contains a notable collection of architectural forms dating from the early 19th century through the early 20th century. The District includes commercial, residential, religious, and industrial structures. Reflectiveof the different era's of the town's development, these structures show a diversity of architectural forms.
The commercial distri.ct of York is largely concentrated along North Congress Street. York's commercial structures reflect a wide variety of forms from such structures as the Latta House with its simple symmetrical form; to the Moore House and Store with its classical details; to the Will's Jewelry Store with its clapboard siding and gable roof; to the Victorian period's Yorkville Enquirer with its heavy molded cornice and cornice heads. Different eras in York's architectural history are also seen in the clapboard York Depot, the City Hall and the 1920s First National Bank of York Building.
York's greatest architectural diversity is seen in its residential forms. The early 1800s preference for Greek Revival forms is seen in such residences as those located along East Liberty Street among which are 230 East Liberty Street, 234 East Liberty Street, the Hart House, or the Gillam House on East Jefferson Street. York's progression into the more ornate Victorian Era is reflected in such notable structures as 110 East Liberty Street, 202 East Liberty Street or 2 Kings Mountain Street; while simpler vernacular residences such as those along College Street and Wright Avenue share a predilection towards asymmetrical form, clapboard siding, gable roof, projecting bays and porches.
In terms of religious architecture, York's churches seem to be characterized by a general preference for Gothic forms as seen in the Good Shepard Episcopal Church, the First Presbyterian Church of York and the Trinity Methodist Church. A notable exception is the York ARP Church on North Congress Street with its two-story portico and classical details. Also notable in terms of industrial architecture is the Republic Textile and Equipment Manufacturing Company, a one and one-half story cut stone structure with jerkinhead roof.
† Adapted from: Julie Burr, South Carolina Department of Archives and History, 1972, York Historic District, nomination document, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
College Street • Congress Street North • Liberty Street East • Wright Avenue