John Lawton House, Estill, SC
The John Lawton House in Estill, South Carolina, was originally built as the new “in-town” home of John Lawton (1830-1908), owner of the nearby plantation Jericho in the old community of Lawtonville, and its construction was completed in 1908. In 1913, the house became the venue for one of the twelve annual meetings of the Estill Wednesday Afternoon Book Club (now the Estill Book Club), a private literary club that has met continuously for the past 95 years in this small community. Originally built in the Classical Revival style, with a dramatic wraparound porch and pedimented front facade, the front portion underwent substantial alterations in 1947 according to plans prepared by John C. Lebey, the well-renowned Savannah, Georgia, architect who made a career of revitalizing older homes while also emphasizing and preserving their historic character. The house has remained continuously inhabited by John Lawton’s descendants since its construction, and since 1939 by his great granddaughter Lawton Clarke O’Cain, who opened her home to travelers as a bed and breakfast from 1984 to 2008. It is a delightful example of an historic small-town southern home that was transformed in an effort to preserve its vitality and usefulness as a grand home.
The John Lawton House was listed in the National Register by the National Park Service on July 1, 2009. The full text of the nomination and additional photos are available at the SCDAH.
John Lawton House, 2008