Hilton Head, South Carolina, lighthouse at dusk.

These 9 Towns in South Carolina Have Beautiful Architecture

Architecture in South Carolina varies in design, depending on its location. Some up-and-coming resort areas in the state feature fun designs meant to attract visitors from around the world, while other examples of regional architecture reflect the heritage of the people who settled in the area centuries ago and endured major events such as the Civil War. Wherever you choose to explore, South Carolina holds an intriguing variety of premier architectural designs that often represent landmarks to locals and guests alike. The following is a list of 9 small South Carolina towns with beautiful architecture.


The lovely southern charm of the Aiken, South Carolina train station on a sunny spring day
The lovely southern charm of the Aiken, South Carolina train station.

Aiken, South Carolina, is where you will find the beloved Birdnest Inn, a high-class luxury Bed and Breakfast situated in a landscape teeming with natural beauty. The Inn prides itself on reflecting the ambiance of an Elizabethan Monastery and displays various priceless works of art ranging from pottery to paintings. The building features two stories with a veranda on each level. The Aiken County Historical Museum features all the charms of a summer cottage on the outside, while inside, its rooms feature permanent and changing exhibits year-round. At the time of its original construction in 1860, the cottage consisted of 22 rooms, but in its restored condition, it now features 32 rooms, 15 bathrooms, and a full-size ballroom. The Gaston Livery Stable underscores the region's history by its original u-shaped construction, dating back to 1893. Its 2 ½ stories and 10,000 square feet of space once played a vital role in the development of Aiken as it was the center of transportation in the area and best of all, it features a carriage lift that is still operational.


Beautiful antebellum house in Beaufort, South Carolina.
Beautiful antebellum house in Beaufort, South Carolina.

The homes in Beaufort, South Carolina are imbued with historical charm amidst streets lined with trees dripping with Spanish Moss, which is the perfect setting for homes like the one at 212 New Street. This local gem is a two-story Queen Anne-style construction with elements of Classic Revival and a wraparound porch. The home located at 1113 Craven Street is another jewel in Beaufort’s crown, known as the Milton Maxey Secession House, where the talks of secession first began. Built in 1810, it was originally intended as a school for boys. During its stunning Greek Revival construction, it also lent itself to being a hospital during the Civil War. It features two stories, Corinthian columns, a wraparound porch, and a winding exterior staircase. A step back in time at Fort Frederick Heritage Preserve reveals the remains of a construction dating back to 1733, made from tabby concrete, one of the earliest forms of concrete. It is composed of sand, oyster shells, and lime and was built to defend against possible Spanish Invasion.


Figaro Market in Newberry, South Carolina. Image credit Pom via CreativeCommons
Figaro Market in Newberry, South Carolina. Image credit Pom via CreativeCommons

In Newberry, South Carolina, The Newberry Museum tops the list of beautiful architecture. Built in 1911, it was originally designed as a federal office building and post office. By 2018, the building was restored and turned into a museum with permanent and changing exhibits that underscore the region's military history as well as arts and entertainment. The exterior of the building features red terra cotta tiles on the roof and sandstone bricks with built-in columns on the left and right sides. Past exhibits include the history of the wedding gown, the history of the Newberry City Fire Department, and an exhibit featuring the life story of Israel Brooks, famous for being the first African American to become a South Carolina State Trooper. The Newberry Opera House, situated at the heart of town, features an eclectic Victorian design mixed with Gothic influences. Its clocktower rises high above the skyline, and its design is composed of granite. Finally, Newberry Manor represents a shining example of late 1800s architecture while exuding classic Southern charm. Its early 1900s interior design includes antique furnishings and clawfoot bathtubs and hosts weddings, photo shoots, and events.


A view of Anderson's Mill, a historic water-powered gristmill on the North Tyger River, South Carolina
A view of Anderson's Mill, a historic water-powered gristmill on the North Tyger River, South Carolina

Life on a plantation can be easily imagined in the Ashtabula House in Anderson, South Carolina. This former plantation mansion, built in the late 1700s, is situated on 10 acres of land and features a two-story clapboard construction. Visitors are welcome, but please remember to dress appropriately, as there is no air conditioning.

Another unique example of interesting architecture in the Anderson region is the Belton Sandpipe, also known as the Belton Waterworks Tower, a 155-foot concrete tower. The tower was built between 1908 and 1909 and was constructed in segmented rings that reached 30 feet underground. It widens to a funnel shape, and at the top, it features crenellations, much like a castle tower. Downtown Anderson is the home to the elegant Beckley Inn, featuring minimalist southern style, it has a soothing color palette of soft browns. It is considered one of the premier historic buildings in Anderson.

Hilton Head Island

Harbor Town Hilton Head Island South Carolina
Harbor Town Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

The iconic red and white striped lighthouse of Hilton Head is a prime example of how architecture goes a long way in defining a region. Specifically, the Harbour Town Lighthouse and Museum has stood tall over Hilton Head Island for over five decades and has come to represent the island to visitors worldwide. A small fee will grant visitors admission to climb to the top of the lighthouse (children five and under enjoy free admission). The lighthouse also serves a practical purpose and has been a beacon for ships staying in the island’s yacht basin. The nautical theme carries on with the Pirate of Hilton Head Pirate Ship. Built to look like a real-life pirate ship, this fun adventure is geared toward children, but everyone can expect to enjoy an hour-and-a-half-long voyage out to sea, soaking in the adventures of pirate life along the way. Just outside of town, located between Hilton Head and nearby Savannah, the Montage Resort offers uniquely designed vacation accommodations tucked within a nature preserve and a nearby golf course. It features cottages and villas with views of surrounding waterways that open to the great outdoors in a relaxing and private setting.


Trinity Episcopal Church in Abbeville is an architectural wonder nestled in Upstate South Carolina with design patterned after Gothic cathedrals.
Trinity Episcopal Church in Abbeville is an architectural wonder nestled in Upstate South Carolina with design patterned after Gothic cathedrals.

The Burt Stark Mansion is the first stop on seeking beautiful architecture in Abbeville, South Carolina. Its early 1800s Greek Revival design houses an interior full of antiques, silver cutlery, China and stained-glass windows. You’ll also find the room where Jefferson Davis finally declared defeat in the Civil War. The Trinity Episcopal Church represents Gothic-style design and features ornate stained-glass windows and a spire that rises high above the skyline. For finely appointed accommodations, The Belmont Inn gives the feeling of stepping back in time within its 25 stylishly decorated rooms, restored to perfection. The exterior reveals colonial influences, a full veranda, and brick construction. This charming Inn exudes Southern charm and features a dining room with a cozy atmosphere due to its exposed bricks and soft lighting.

Myrtle Beach

Pretty oceanfront beach rental homes at the seashore.
Pretty oceanfront beach rental homes at the seashore.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is home to the famous Carolina Opry Theatre, constructed in 1992. Its Grandstand and cupola can be seen from every angle in the city, and it is considered to put on a great show. Inside, it features upholstered seating and state-of-the-art lighting, and the lobby showcases a crystal chandelier hung from 40-foot ceilings. A surprisingly joy-inducing marvel of unique architecture is on full view at the Pirates Voyage Dinner and Show venue. The exterior is a formidable, multi-level building resembling an old-world saloon. Inside, audiences are seated in grandstand style around a large pool of water where all scenes from the dramatic pirate stories are played in full regalia. The Myrtle Beach Art Museum hits a more serious but equally as interesting note inside the 100-year-old former beach cottage. Constructed in the year 1929, it is considered one of the finest in the region and features artwork from some of the most promising talent in South Carolina.


Aerial view of Florence, South Carolina
Aerial view of Florence, South Carolina

Florence, South Carolina, pays their respects to veterans at the Florence Veterans Park with a Wall of Honor as well as other various monuments commemorating the wars of the 20th century. An award-winning 30-foot-tall sculpture, topped with a Bald Eagle, is located at the center of the park, and it also features an amphitheater with a surrounding flag display, among other interesting and thoughtful memorials. The Florence County Museum showcases the work of regional artists within its building, which reflects a modern, minimalist exterior, front-facing windows, and symmetrical design. It also features an 18-foot-tall reptile wall and represents a top-notch example of beautiful architecture within Florence. Another example of appealing architecture in the region is Francis Marion University’s 849-seat auditorium. It consists of an orchestra shell, a 100-seat experimental theatre, a rehearsal space, and an academic wing, to name a few of its features. Its design conveys modern elements with gothic-inspired components, a glass facade, and three peaked rooflines.


The historic clock tower landmark in Spartanburg.
The historic clock tower landmark in Spartanburg. Image credit Wileydoc via Shutterstock.

Spartanburg, South Carolina, is home to the Chapman Cultural Center, which has 86,000 square feet of space within a three-building facility. It first opened in 2007 and is now prized as the community’s best venue for performing arts, visual arts, science, and history. It features the Spartanburg Little Theatre, among many other exciting initiatives. For a glimpse back in time, The Walnut Grove Plantation sits on 3,600 acres and was the home of patriot slave owners at one time. Still, this unfortunate history is overshadowed by its intriguing array of original outbuildings, including a forge, smokehouse, and barn. The Seay House Historic site also offers an interesting view into the lives of the three women who lived there, unmarried but keeping a happy home. Built in the 1700s, it is considered the oldest house within the city limits. It has a fieldstone fireplace, front porch and classic L-shaped design with hewn logs underneath wood sheathing, which protects it from weather damage.

Variety is the name of the game when it comes to the beautiful architecture of South Carolina. For a chance to have great family fun, visitors enjoy a swashbuckling good time aboard the Pirates of Hilton Head’s replica pirate ship. For a more serious experience, a visit to the Veterans Park on Florence offers time to reflect amidst thoughtfully designed monuments. A visit to the Burt Stark Mansion in Abbeville provides the opportunity to enjoy a Greek revival style home significant in the history of the Civil War and The Bleckley Inn offers luxurious accommodations steeped in Southern charm. Make sure to include South Carolina in your plans to seek out beautiful architecture.

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