This site served as the South Carolina State Penitentiary from 1866 until 1994. Today, little evidence remains of the original complex, which included two cell blocks and an administrative structure. The prison was originally built because county jails were short on space for prisoners. However, this new facility was quickly filled, and officials subsequently adopted a chain gang system. This system allowed prisoners to return to their home towns to work on road maintenance crews. Later expansions added a hospital, a woman’s cell block, and a juvenile reformatory. Eventually the facility became outdated and lacked needed security.