Walker, George Edward
Architect, engineer. Walker was among the first generation of architects to work professionally in South Carolina. He began practicing architecture in Charleston about 1850. His designs for Free School No. 6 and the library building at the College of Charleston garnered attention. His career took a sharp turn upward after he began serving under the direction of Edward B. White, the leading Charleston architect of the era, as superintending architect of the new customhouse.
In August 1854 Walker became the architect of the new state capitol at Columbia. He replaced Peter H. Hammarskold, who was dismissed when the half-completed foundations built under his direction were found to be crumbling. The appointment appeared to confirm Walker’s emerging talent, but he proved unable to work productively with the commissioners and consulting architect John R. Niernsee. Walker oversaw the demolition of Hammarskold’s failed foundations, but thereafter the project came to a standstill. In April 1855, after eight months of delays, the commissioners dismissed Walker and hired Niernsee to take his place, having recognized that Walker lacked the administrative skills and political acumen necessary to move the troubled project forward.
Despite his ill-fated tenure with the new state capitol, Walker was a competent architect of smaller buildings and designed Trinity Episcopal Church in Abbeville, Christ Church in Columbia, and buildings for educational institutions such as Columbia Female College and Newberry College. Walker enlisted in the Confederate army in April 1861 and supervised the construction of fortifications near Charleston and Savannah. His career came to a premature end when he died in Columbus, Georgia, of a sudden illness on September 16, 1863, at the age of thirty-six.
Ravenel, Beatrice St. Julien. Architects of Charleston. 1945. Reprint, Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1992.
Vivian, Daniel J. “South Carolina’s Architectural Ambition: The Effort to Erect the New State Capitol, 1851–1855.” South Carolina Historical Magazine 100 (April 1999): 98–123.