National Historic Register
National Register Descriptive Text
The house at Dantzler Plantation, constructed ca. 1846-50 near the intersection of present-day Vance Road and Bass Drive in the rural Dantzler community near Holly Hill, in rural Orangeburg County, South Carolina, is a porticoed, two-story Greek Revival raised cottage of frame construction, set on a partially enclosed, brick pier foundation ranging in height from six feet (under the main block) to just over three feet (under the two rear additions). The main block of the house is unique for its remarkable depth (triple pile) in comparison to its width (only five bays wide). The two interior double chimneys and the two exterior chimneys at the rear of the main block are composed of soft brick that was made on the property and also used in the construction of the foundation. The main block is connected via a rear portico (now enclosed) to a one and one-half story building originally conceived as the kitchen and probably built at the same time as the main house. Its single brick chimney, once located at the rear, has been almost entirely removedonly remnants of its foundation (and its associated original mantel, curiously) survive. Connected to the rear of this second block is a one-story addition most likely constructed between 1870 and 1910; its end [southwest elevation] rests on the remains of a brick fireplace once used as a free-standing outdoor firepita common feature in Orangeburg County yards during the antebellum period.1 The main block features a lateral gabled, pedimented roof clad in a standing seam rolled metal, and the two rear ells reverse the gabling lengthwise but reflect a similar pedimented form and roof material.
Two historic oak avenues, one leading to the main entrance of the house and one to its right elevation, contribute to the historic setting and character of the property. The approach to the front of the house is encircled by a historic wood picket fence, anchored by four-foot high brick posts spaced approximately eight feet apart. The central entry gate features a segmental brick archway flanked by two larger and taller brick posts measuring approximately ten feet in height and featuring pyramidal brick caps. A double-leaf picketed gate is anchored to the arched entry. This structure also contributes to the historic setting and character of the property. No other historic buildings or structures survive on the property.
The front portico is reached via a single flight of brick steps (concreted over in the 1960s to prevent deterioration) that is flanked by stuccoed-brick, stepped cheek walls. The portico, which encompasses the three center bays of the five-bay building, features four faceted and fluted columns with square bases and faceted capitals, all designed in a style similar to the Roman Doric order. To either side of the entry steps and between the columns is a Classical Revival balustrade. Two engaged and fluted columns anchor the portico to the house. The front wall of the house within the portico is sheathed in a wide flushboard, and the porch ceiling is paneled. The portico's entablature consists of a paneled frieze that extends across the house's facade and a simple boxed cornice that extends around the house and on the rake of each pediment. The pediment is accented by a Palladian window with a double-shuttered center opening. triple pane sidelights, and a five-pane fanlight. Built in the raised cottage form of the Greek Revival style, the house features a substantial temple front that was possibly an addition made before 1860. Physical evidence in the attic space suggests that a portion of the original front-facing roof slope of the house may have been cut away at a later date in order to accommodate the addition of the impressive pedimented gable. In some places, remains of the original roof decking protrudes into the opening cut to accommodate the temple-front portico addition. On the other hand, the arrangement of beams within this interior space over the portico suggests that the original structure did include some sort of colonnaded porch with dimensions roughly equivalent to those of the existing temple front. That said, the supporting timbers for the current portico ceiling are rough-hewn log beams equal in size and type to those used to construct the schoolrooms (see below), suggesting that the original portico was altered substantially, aside from its main posts and beams, in order to accommodate the shift to the more impressive temple-front façade.
In addition to this substantial change to the original façade of the house, the second-story interior was substantially altered as well, probably at nearly the same time that the temple front was added. The symmetry of the larger door openings on the second floor suggests that these four larger rooms were the original ones to the house. The two additional rooms located toward the front of the house (and identified by the family as the “schoolrooms”) required the construction of two new door openings (one for each room) on the second story. Not only are these openings nearly a foot and a half narrower and more than a foot shorter than those for the other four rooms on this level, but the flooring in these two rooms differs as well, running perpendicular to the flooring in the other rooms and made of substantially wider and more roughly finished boards than the flooring in the other four rooms. In addition, the schoolroom ceilings and walls located along the side parallel with and closest to the front of the house have been framed in such a way as to allow a “curve” between ceiling and wall that accommodates the pitch of the front slope of the house’s roof. Rough-hewn logs, equivalent in size and cut to those used to support the ceiling of the portico, serve as the posts and beams for these two schoolrooms. Moreover, the single narrow window in each schoolroomequivalent to the narrow windows located in the crawlspaces located at the back of the houseis cut short by the ceiling’s intersection with the window below the top of its frame. The remainder of the window is visible from within the attic crawlspace, jutting above the ceiling of each schoolroom.
The double-entry at the front of the house does not feature either a trabeated entryway or the rectangular transom so common to Greek Revival entrances. Instead, its appearance leans heavily toward the Federal or early Classical Revival, with its elliptical fanlight of seven panes over the doorway and four-pane sidelights. The entrance features a molded surround with Greek Revival profiles, corner blocks and recessed panels under the sidelights. A double-leaf, wood-framed screen door and upper screened panel obscures the original double-leaf six-panel doors, nearly nine feet in height. Fenestration on the first floor of the entire building consists of six-over-six, double-hung windows with pedimented frames. Second story windows vary, though they are symmetrical and likewise pedimented, with two central windows of one-over-one double-hung sashes framed by one-over-one sidelights, and two outer one-over-one narrow lights. The pediment on both sides of the house is capped with a fan-like or sunburst attic vent. All windows on the first floor are equipped with shutters, with the exception of the side windows on the later addition at the rear of the house and the window associated with the bathroom located on one end of what was once the rear breezeway or inset porch (see below). None of the second-floor windows feature shutters. Most shutters are louvered, but those on the front of the house are simply wooden planks with cross battens.
A particularly unusual feature of the house is the corner cutouts on the rear corners of the main block, built to accommodate the rear chimneys; the paneled friezes here duplicate those from the façade and portico. Large wooden pegs were used to join many of the main timbers of the home.
As for its interior, the central hallway appears at its opening to be nearly fifteen feet in height, though at the midpoint of the hallway, the ceiling drops to approximately twelve feet to accommodate the second-floor hallway, thus creating two lateral, balustraded “vents” into this second-floor space. The recessed staircase to the second floor, consisting of twenty-six heart pine steps, is located to the left side of the hallway. Wall and ceiling treatments throughout the house consist primarily of wide heart pine originally cut on the property. First-floor interior door and window surrounds original to the house are fluted with corner block medallions, and all of the first-floor rooms feature paneling below the chair rail. All of the mantels in the house appear to differ from each other and embrace varying styles; it is unclear whether they are all original to the house. The rear entryway at the end of the central hallway is more conventionally Greek Revival in style, with an oblong transom light (anchored by medallions) and two four-pane sidelights with under panels. The entry to the original kitchen (located to the rear of the main block and in the first of the ells) is accessed from the rear entryway by steps leading downward from a small inset porch [former breezeway] and is characterized by a remarkable angled and paneled reveal leading to a double-leaf paneled doorway with pedimented lintel. Two enormous china hutches flanking the interior of this entrance and probably original to this portion of the house remain intact.
Several additional changes and updates have been made to the house over the years. The rear inset porch or breezeway was screened in on one side and a bathroom added on the other side sometime in the earlier twentieth century, effectively eliminating the “open-air” feel that the rear entrance of the main block must have once had. In addition, a bathroom was inserted into the crawl space at the rear of the second floor, probably at the same time the first-floor bathroom was added. Passthroughs between the first-floor rooms have been closed off for the most part, most of them converted into closets or (in the case of one of the front rooms) bathrooms. A modern kitchen was built into one of the rear rooms of the main block during the mid-twentieth century, and bookshelves were built into either end of the original second-floor hallway at an unknown date. Also, a closet has been framed into one of the original second-floor rooms, and permanent shelves have been erected in one of the schoolrooms, all at an unknown date. While these changes have all complicated the architectural history of the house, it nevertheless retains its architectural integrity, both as an impressive surviving example of antebellum Greek Revival architecture and as a property whose architectural transitions have reflected the adaptations necessary over the course of 160 years.
1 Mr. and Mrs. Ledyard Lincklaen, “Letter-Journal of a Trip to Cuba & the Southern States,” 1857, unpublished diary, New York Historical Society, New York, N.Y. The Lincklaens comment on their fascination with the use of these open fireplaces as a practice “peculiar” to the Orangeburg area; the intent was to light the yard for outdoor activities in the evening, as well as to drive away mosquitoes.