Edward Culliatt Jones (1822–1902) and Francis D. Lee (1826–1885) were a leading force in South Carolina architecture in the 1850s. During a brief but successful partnership, Jones and Lee designed buildings throughout the state and worked extensively in Charleston. With Edward B. White, they were largely responsible for the emergence of romanticism in South Carolina architecture.
Jones and Lee were both native Charlestonians. Jones was born on July 21, 1822, and worked as an apprentice to builder James Curtis before entering architectural practice in 1848. He married Martha J. Small on February 17, 1857. Lee was born in 1826 to William Lee and Elizabeth Markley. Lee graduated from the College of Charleston in 1846, and began working in Jones’s office three years later. In 1852 the pair formed a partnership, which took the form of a loosely structured collaboration and lasted until 1857. They worked together on some commissions but handled others independently. Stylistically, the influence of romanticism unified their work, but each architect retained distinctly different design specialties. Jones was known for his Italianate designs, while Lee achieved distinction for his use of the Moorish and Gothic revival styles.
Jones had built a strong practice by the time he and Lee became partners. His early work in Charleston included the Greek revival Trinity Methodist Church (1848–1850) at 275 Meeting Street, Roper Hospital (1850; demolished), and the Italianate Colonel A. S. Ashe House (ca. 1853). The Church of the Holy Cross (1850) at Stateburg and the main building at Wofford College in Spartanburg (1851–1854) were among his first commissions outside of Charleston. After parting with Lee, Jones would continue working throughout the state. His major projects of the late 1850s included Walker Hall (1857–59) at the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind near Spartanburg.
Most of the projects that Jones and Lee undertook as partners were in Charleston. They designed the State Bank of South Carolina (1853) and the neighboring Walker, Evans and Cogswell Building (1853–1854), and also remodeled the Charleston Orphan House (1853–1854) and the Planters’ and Mechanics’ Bank (1853; destroyed). The South Carolina Institute Hall (1854; demolished) was an especially prestigious commission for the firm. Lee received recognition for designing two Moorish-revival structures, the Farmers and Exchange Bank at 141 East Bay Street (1853–1854) and the Fish Market (1856; destroyed). Jones and Lee also designed county jails in Walterboro (1855–1856) and Orangeburg (1857–1860), the Chester County Courthouse (ca. 1855), and the main building at Furman College (1852–1854; demolished).
After dissolving their partnership, Jones and Lee followed remarkably similar paths. Both remained in Charleston and continued to practice architecture, then served in the Confederate army during the Civil War, and later went west. Jones settled in Memphis, Tennessee, where he supervised construction of the Second Presbyterian Church (1891–1892) and also designed the Church of the Holy Trinity in Vicksburg, Mississippi (1870–1894). He died in Memphis on February 12, 1902. Lee moved to St. Louis, Missouri, in 1868 and became a member of the firm of Lee and Annan, which carried out a number of major projects in the 1870s and 1880s. Lee died at Big Stone Lake, Minnesota, on August 26, 1885 and was buried at Bellefontaine Cemetary in St. Louis.
Lane, Mills. Architecture of the Old South: South Carolina. Rev. ed. Savannah, Ga.: Beehive, 1997.
Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1997.
Ravenel, Beatrice St. Julien. Architects of Charleston. 1945. Reprint, Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1992.
Severens, Kenneth. Charleston Antebellum Architecture and Civic Destiny. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1988.