Johnson, John Carroll

November 9, 1882–May 4, 1967

In 1944 Johnson became the University of South Carolina’s resident architect, a position he held through 1956 that involved planning campus expansion and designing.

Architect. J. Carroll Johnson was born on November 9, 1882, in Kristianstad, Sweden, to Peter Pare Johnson and Carolena Samuelson. He immigrated with his family to the United States in 1885 and settled in Chicago, where in 1906 he received a bachelor of science degree in architecture from Armour Institute of Technology. He apprenticed there with Jenney, Mundie & Jensen from 1900 until 1906, when he joined Wood, Donn & Deming of Washington, D.C. He earned a postgraduate degree in architecture from the University of Pennsylvania in 1908, and completed his education in France and Italy in 1909.

In 1910 Johnson accepted a position with Wilson, Sompayrac & Urquhart of Columbia, but by late 1912 had formed a partnership with James B. Urquhart, with whom he designed, among others, Columbia High School (1915), Ridgewood Country Club clubhouse (1916), and Camden’s First National Bank (1917). In 1917 Johnson began an independent practice that continued until the Depression and produced such designs as the State Industrial School for Girls (1918), First Presbyterian Church of Kershaw (1920), and three schools in Lancaster (1922). He also designed several buildings on the University of South Carolina campus, including Sloan College (1927), the South Caroliniana Library wing additions (1927–1928), Melton Observatory (1928), and Wardlaw College (1930–1931). In 1938 he associated with Jesse W. Wessinger and, before dissolving that partnership in 1942, designed the Lexington County Courthouse (1939–1940), Sims Dormitory at the University of South Carolina (1939), and the First Baptist Church of West Columbia (1942).

In 1944 Johnson became the University of South Carolina’s resident architect, a position he held through 1956 that involved planning campus expansion and designing, among others, Petigru College (1949, in association with Simons & Lapham of Charleston), LeConte College (1952), Osborne Administration Building (1951–1952), and the conversion and renovation of the President’s House (1952). Apart from this work, Johnson was perhaps best known for his more than 120 residential designs that included the Benjamin F. Taylor House (1910–1912), the Boyne-Pressley-Spigner House (1915), and two houses for Dr. Robert E. Seibels in Columbia (1927, 1933); the John T. Stevens House in Kershaw (1918); and houses for James L. Coker, Jr. (1923–1924) and J. B. Gilbert (1929) in Hartsville. He was elected a member of the American Institute of Architects in 1916, but later resigned from the South Carolina chapter. Johnson died in Columbia on May 4, 1967, and was buried in Elmwood Cemetery.

Chandler, Andrew Watson. “‘Dialogue With The Past’–J. Carroll Johnson, Architect, and the University of South Carolina, 1912–1956.” Master’s thesis, University of South Carolina, 1993.

“John C. Johnson, 84, Architect, Dies.” Columbia State, May 5, 1967, p. A7.

Wells, John E., and Robert E. Dalton. The South Carolina Architects, 1885–1935: A Biographical Directory. Richmond, Va.: New South Architectural Press, 1992.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Johnson, John Carroll
  • Coverage November 9, 1882–May 4, 1967
  • Author
  • Keywords Architect, Wilson, Sompayrac & Urquhart of Columbia, became the University of South Carolina’s resident architect, more than 120 residential designs
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • URL
  • Access Date October 30, 2020
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update November 29, 2016
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