Preserving a piece of history: Community efforts to improve Historic Barnwell courthouse and sundial


BARNWELL, S.C. (WJBF) — Our daily lives run on time and schedules. It’s easy for us to look at the clock to tell the time. But long ago it was not so simple. Here in Barnwell, the sundial by the courthouse tells more just time —- it tells the history of the city.

“This community is proud of our courthouse and our sundial,” said Barnwell Attorney, Linda Knapp. “We get lots of visitors; I want it to be pretty and exciting for folks who come.”

The sundial was presented to the citizens of Barnwell in 1858 by Joseph Duncan Allen, who served in the Mexican War and the Florida Seminole-Indian War. With so much history behind it, the Barnwell attorney, says the courtyard needed a face-lift.

“I just noticed didn’t look up to par,” explained Knapp. “The roses had mostly died, there once all flowers here, but those are all gone. I just kind of felt sad about it.”

So she took matters in her own hands.

“I just started contacting people, we got permission, and our church got involved,” said Knapp.

Knapp says the community joined in to get down and dirty.

“We just donated ourselves to be able to come out here,” said a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day, Sister Ogden. “We donated the tools and our hands.”

Sister Ogden told NewsChannel 6 reporter, Devin Johnson this project is about giving back to the community.

“We’re only here for a short while, but we love South Carolina and Barnwell; we want to help them,” explained Sister Ogdon.

As well as to continue attracting more guests to the historic courthouse.

“This will help beautify our courtyard for individuals to sit out here while they are waiting on their time of the court,” said Clerk of Court, Rhonda McElveen. “It just helps us show off the pride of Barnwell citizens.”

The Barnwell courthouse was destroyed in a fire in 1865, but the sundial survived where it still stands today. It is the only remaining one of its kind in the country.

Photojournalist: Will Baker

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