Founded by George Eugene Lafaye (1878–1939), the firm of Lafaye and Lafaye was one of the state’s most respected and successful architectural practices from the 1910s to the 1970s. Lafaye was educated at Jesuit College before training as a draftsman in several New Orleans firms. He moved to Columbia, South Carolina, in 1900 as chief draftsman for W. B. Smith Whaley & Company. When Whaley left Columbia in 1903, Lafaye entered into partnership with former Whaley associate Gadsden E. Shand to practice under the name Shand and Lafaye until 1907, when he established his own office. Shand and Lafaye designed the Carolina National Bank, the Colonia Hotel, the Ottaray Hotel in Greenville, the Clarendon County Courthouse, the Peoples Bank of Rock Hill, Columbia College’s campus, Columbia’s Young Men’s Christian Association, and the Highland Park Hotel in Aiken.
In 1913 George Lafaye hired his younger brother, Robert Stoddard Lafaye (1892–1972), as a draftsman, but a tour of duty with the U.S. Army during World War I interrupted the association. Returning to Columbia in 1919, Robert Lafaye was made partner the following year. Some of Lafaye and Lafaye’s more important pre–World War II commissions were St. John’s (Shandon) Episcopal Church, Shandon Presbyterian Church, Township Auditorium, the Columbia Hotel, the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Aiken, the Farm Credit Administration Office Building, the Hartsville Community Center and Market, Providence Hospital, McLeod Infirmary in Florence, the James L. Tapp Department Store, the War Memorial Building, and the Wade Hampton State Office Building.
The firm operated under the name Lafaye and Lafaye until 1937–1938, when Herndon M. Fair and George E. Lafaye, Jr., were made partners. After George Lafaye’s death in 1939, Robert Lafaye led the firm until his own death in 1972. The firm continued as Lafaye, Lafaye and Fair until 1946, when longtime chief draftsman Walter F. Petty became an associate. The firm’s name changed to Lafaye, Fair, Lafaye and Associates in 1949.
From the 1910s through the 1970s the firm did much of its most important work for state institutions, including the University of South Carolina, Clemson University, South Carolina State College, the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind near Spartanburg, the State Training School (Whitten Village) at Clinton, and the South Carolina State Hospital. Important later commissions included the South Carolina National Bank, the Marion Street High-Rise Apartments, and the Episcopal Church’s Finlay House Apartments. The firm also received hundreds of residential commissions throughout South Carolina over the years.
Many of the firm’s members were active in the state chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). George Lafaye, Herndon Fair, and Walter Petty each served as chapter president, while Robert Lafaye served as vice president throughout World War II. George Lafaye was also an original member of the State Board of Architectural Examiners. Walter Petty served as the board’s secretary, was named a fellow in the AIA in 1968, served on state and national boards and committees for historic preservation, and authored the fiftieth-anniversary history of the state’s AIA chapter in 1963.
Lafaye and Lafaye. Papers. South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia.
Lafaye and Lafaye. Representative Work: Lafaye and Lafaye, Architects, Columbia, S.C. Norfolk, Va.: George S. Myers, n.d.
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.