Architect. Edwards was born on December 8, 1866, in Darlington to Augustus F. Edwards and Elizabeth S. Hart. He was educated at St. David’s Academy in Society Hill and Richmond College and was among the first class at South Carolina College to earn a B.S. in mechanical engineering in 1889. In 1893 Edwards began his architectural career in Roanoke, Virginia, as a draftsman for Charles Coker Wilson, who returned to South Carolina in 1895 with Edwards to open an office in Columbia. Wilson & Edwards thrived, with more than fifty buildings to their credit between 1896 and 1900, in South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, and Florida. Edwards directed the firm’s work in 1899–1900 while Wilson studied abroad.
Dissolving their partnership in 1901, Edwards took Frank C. Walter as a partner by 1902 and maintained a successful practice in Columbia until they relocated to Atlanta in 1908. Among their more important commissions were sixteen standard public-school designs prepared for the State Board of Education as part of a statewide program of public-school construction and adapted in numerous communities across the upstate, including Laurens, Union, Pelzer, Greer, and Walhalla. In addition they designed courthouses in Darlington (1903), Kershaw (1904–1905), Sumter (1905–1906), Abbeville (1907–1908), and Lee (1907–1909) Counties; the Abbeville City Hall and Opera House; the McMaster School of Columbia (1909–1910); and the Withers Training School at Winthrop College in Rock Hill. Walter left the partnership in 1911, but Edwards’s Atlanta-based practice continued to flourish with more South Carolina courthouse commissions, including those for Dillon (1911), Calhoun (1913), York (1914), and Jasper (1914–1915) Counties; Darlington’s First Baptist Church (1911–1912); Columbia’s Union National Bank Building (1912–1914); other buildings at Winthrop College; and several for the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind near Spartanburg.
In 1915 Edwards took as a partner William J. Sayward, a former associate of New York architects McKim, Mead & White, and continued a successful practice, concentrating on collegiate work in South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia. Throughout his long and varied career, Edwards won distinction as both a collegiate designer and a county courthouse architect, having to his credit a number of campuses throughout the Southeast and nine county courthouses in South Carolina between 1903 and 1915. Edwards died in Atlanta on March 30, 1939.
National Register Nomination Files. “Courthouses in South Carolina Designed by William Augustus Edwards.” Thematic Resources, July 1981. South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia.
Wells, John E., and Robert E. Dalton. The South Carolina Architects, 1885–1935: A Biographical Directory. Richmond, Va.: New South Architectural Press, 1992.
Withey, Henry F., and Elsie Rathburn Withey. Biographical Dictionary of American Architects (Deceased). 1956. Reprint, Los Angeles: Hennessey and Ingalls, 1970.