SC History Trail

Marion Historic District

A picturesque district that preserves the historic town's Southern charm, Marion Historic District includes various historic buildings, monuments and historic sites, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Marion Historic District
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Site Description
Founded in 1798 at the convergence of local Indian trading paths, the city of Marion was established by Thomas Godbold, son of an early area pioneer who paid one-dollar for four acres of land that would become downtown Marion. Godbold established a crude town square around a horse hitching post and sold lots.

The town was first known as Gilesborough in recognition of Colonel Hugh Gilges, a local officer who served in the Revolutionary War. In 1826, soon after surrounding Liberty County was renamed Marion District, the town was also renamed Marion in honor of South Carolina Revolutionary War hero Francis Marion, the "Swamp Fox" of the Revolution. The Wilmington and Manchester Railroad came to Marion in 1854 and was later supplanted by the Atlantic Coastline Railroad, making Marion an important railroad stop in northeastern South Carolina.

In 1865, a passing journalist described Marion as "a very pretty little village full of trees and gardens and light elegant homes." In keeping with that early description the Marion Historic District preserves trees, gardens and historic buildings and monuments, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Among the historic buildings in the district are the Marion County Courthouse, a Georgian-style structure built in 1854, and inspired by the work of South Carolina architect Robert Mills who also designed the Washington Monument. The nearby Marion Town Hall and Opera House, built in 1892, has served over the years as a meat market, opera house, police station, town hall and jail, and the Marion County Archives and History Center, which holds numerous genealogical records and county documents from 1800-1900.

Nearby too is Marion County's Confederate Monument, a bronze statue of a Confederate soldier cast in Chicago in 1903 to honor Southern troops from Marion County, and on the spacious town square is a monument to the "Swamp Fox". Marion's Historic Train Depot, built in 1908, preserves Marion's history as a railroad town. It also houses the Marion Chamber of Commerce which provides information on touring the Marion Historic District.
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Historic Registry: National Register of Historic Places