Historic Structures

White Hall - Thomas Porcher Plantation House, Pinopolis South Carolina

Date added: March 9, 2016 Categories: South Carolina Plantations & Farms House

In 1818, Thomas Porcher the son and namesake of the builder of "Ophir" house, built the older portion of this house at White Hall using a plan with a central hall like that of a Charleston Single House, but decorating it with a mixture of styles between that used, by his father at "Ophir" and such work as his kindred were affecting in Upper Saint John's.

In the next generation, the wing vdth the bay vindow was added to White Hall by Porcher's son-in-law, Charles Lucas.

The basic plan of White Hall provides a central hall separating two large rooms across the front and two small first-floor rooms in the rear shed, although the shed may not be original. The addition of a large wing about 1850 created a T-shaped building with the entrance in one of the angles. The new room was for entertaining and is called the Ball Room though not of great size.

The-main block is two full stories, with a gable roof and two ranges of 13-light windows, those in the upper story apparently having a slightly smaller glass size than those below. The front shutters are paneled and the side louvered. By lowering the slopes of the roof and carrying the main cornice across the end elevation and up the rake of the gable, a pseudo-pediment roof is formed. The tympanum, like the rest of the building, is weatherboarded, and is pierced by a large mullioned window. On the exterior of the new wing all of the fine detail of the older building was copied with great fidelity. A polygonal bay window, designed in the same style, was placed at the end of the wing.

The interior trim of the 1850 entrance hall and Ball Room is of a simple Victorian type, but that of the early house is original and exceptionally fine. The exterior trim of the front door was allowed to remain in the new entrance hall. The frame is composed of narrow paneled pilasters and a full entablature. The fields of the pilaster panels are carved with horizontal fluting and the frieze with a series of circular sunbursts, separated by squares of vertical fluting. In the cornice is an elaborate Wall of Troy dentil course. Above the paneled double doors is a transom, the bar of which is carved with a diminutive repeat of the frieze ornament.

The dining room of Vftiite Hall shares with the twin parlors of Ophir the distinction of having the finest carved woodwork of the region, and is undoubtedly by the same craftsman. The mantel is almost an exact repeat but has a richer cornice and is improved by the omission of the corner sunbursts in the center frieze panel. The fireplace facing is also of Pennsylvania blue marble, which is typical in the fine houses of the region. In the main cornice a complete change of ornament occurs, reeded blocks alternating with circular sunbursts, taking the place of the fine festoons of Ophir. The cornice has a larger scale Wall of Troy dentil band, and the soffit of the cymatium is carved with a guilloche and the corona with vertical ornament. The dado is paneled, with the supplementary panel mould, and the chair rail is carved with festoons.

The drawing room has carved detail of even greater richness. The dado cap is an innovation, the fascia being bulbous, with horizontal blocks of fluting between tiny sunbursts. The design of the ornament in this room, however, lacks logic and direction; so it does not compare favorably with the dining room. The stair is graceful, simple, and well designed, with rectangular balusters, moulded walnut rail, and delicately turned posts.