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Judge Thomas N. Dawkins House ("The Shrubs")

Judge Thomas N. Dawkins House ("The Shrubs")
One of Union's Oldest Homes

Located at the end of N. Church Street in downtown Union is an unassuming building that does not outwardly show its history as the one-time state capital of SC during the Civil War. The Dawkins House, circa 1845, is a 4,500+ square-foot Federal-style home tucked away on the University of South Carolina-Union campus. It is also a “terminus” home in that it is located and its front door is at the end of N. Church Street, which connects to Highway 176, the main route from Union to Columbia.

​​History: The Dawkins House is most notably regarded as the former home of Judge Thomas N. Dawkins and his second wife, Mary Poulton Dawkins. Initially named "the Shrubs" after Mary Poulton's childhood home in England, this two-story, clapboard building has a grand stature, with five bedrooms, two parlors, and eight fireplaces. 

During the Civil War, the state capitol would move four times with the intent of avoiding capture and destruction. Though Judge Dawkins was overtly a Unionist, he was held in high regard by his peers, including friend, Gov. Andrew Magrath. In 1865, Dawkins offered "the Shrubs" as the temporary state headquarters of SC.

Judge Dawkins, despite his personal residence in the South, was a staunch Unionist amongst many Secessionists of the time. He remained cordial, however, and would continue to serve as an elected official during the Reconstruction era. When Judge Dawkins built his house in 1845 with Federal and Georgian architectural attributes, it was added onto a pre-existing structure. Portions of the pre-existing structure may date back to as far as the 1790s, making it one of Union's oldest homes, existing at the time of George Washington’s and John Adams’ presidencies. Much of the historic fabric is still intact today.

In October 2022, Preservation SC acquired the future rights to the Dawkins House at a property tax sale. Upon our acquisition of the property in November 2023, we will receive $300,000 from the state for this project. It is our intent to work with the community to not only find a purpose for this significant building, but also to ensure it will be standing for another 178 years.

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