Partners James Douthit Beacham (1891–1956) and Leon LeGrand (ca. 1893–1963) were Greenville’s most popular architects during the 1920s, when the city boomed with construction. Beacham, a Greenville native, was educated at Furman University, Clemson College (1909), and Virginia Polytechnic Institute (1911). LeGrand, from Sumter, studied with Rudolph E. Lee at Clemson (1915). Both worked for J. E. Sirrine & Co. after World War I.
Beacham and LeGrand began their partnership in 1920 by designing Greenville’s Salvation Army Hospital. In the decade that followed, they were commissioned to design some of the city’s most important buildings: the ten-story Chamber of Commerce building; the Ramsay Fine Arts Center at the Greenville Woman’s College; the Working Benevolent Society Temple, built as a center for black professionals and small businesses on Broad Street; the County Tuberculosis Hospital; and the Burgiss Shrine Hospital for Crippled Children. The partners also designed downtown stores, warehouses, movie theaters, residences, Augusta Road Elementary School, and the Children of Israel Synagogue. In 1925 they opened a second office in Asheville, North Carolina.
The ability of Beacham and LeGrand to combine southern vernacular designs, especially colonial or Georgian revival styles, with the functional demands of modern buildings made them successful. Their most important Greenville commission was probably the Chamber of Commerce building, which combined elaborate Sullivanesque decorative motifs with practicality—including telephone connections and washbasins in every office. Their practice slowed during the Great Depression and ended in 1942. After World War II they practiced separately.
“J. D. Beacham, an Architect, Dies Suddenly.” Greenville News, July 20, 1956, p. 33.
Obituary. Greenville News, May 5, 1963, p. D4. Wells, John E., and Robert E. Dalton. The South Carolina Architects,
1885–1935: A Biographical Directory. Richmond, Va.: New South Architectural Press, 1992.