The Lanes wove their creations throughout the city’s arteries

Columbia Ward – Houses at nos. 3, 4 and 6 are the focus of this blog

Our final look at the Mills B. Lane family efforts in Columbia Ward unites the work of parents and son.

Lumber merchant Patrick K. Shiels built the house at 417-421 East Broughton St. in 1843. It was raised and enlarged in 1905. Anne and Mills B. Lane, Jr. knew it as the home to Pike’s Variety Store, and from 1967-69 they renovated it, leaving space for retail on the ground level and apartments above.

Mills Lane IV, after originally setting up the Beehive Press in his basement on Pulaski Square, moved the operation of his book publishing enterprise into the east side of the ground level of the Shiels House and worked there in the 1970s and 80s.

Northwest view of Patrick K. Shiels House, 417-421 East Broughton St., before renovation

Northeast view before renovation

Rear view before renovation

Northeast view during renovation, 1969

Rear view during renovation

Renovation complete (minus a few shutters)

State of the house in 2018, shutters gone (photo from Google Maps)

Two blocks south on Price Street, shoe merchant Abraham Scribner had built a Federal style house in 1810 on the eastern side of the northeast trust lot. Double stairways lead to the central, narrow arched entrance with a Federal fanlight. That entrance opens to a large central hall between two parlors. Rooms were added to the rear of the house in the 1890s.

Abraham Scribner House, 424 East President St., before renovation

Rear view before renovation


Front view after renovation

View today (photo from Google Maps)

The fireplace mantels on the first and second floors feature sunburst motifs and are original to the 1810 structure. The stairway railings and landings banisters are a mixture from the original work in 1810 and the remodeling of 1899, according to SCAD professor Daves Rossell writing in the Vernacular Architecture Forum 2007: Savannah and the Lowcountry Field Guide.  The newel post on the first floor is from the later period.

When Anne and Mills Jr. remodeled the house from 1967-69, they excavated the basement to add ceiling height and installed ornate mantels on that floor.

In 1964 Anne and Mills Jr. had also renovated the Frank Douglas Houses originally built from 1883-1892 at 302-308 East President St.

Frank Douglas Houses, 302-308 East President St., after renovation

View today (photo from Google Maps)

Mills Jr.’s nephew, Howard Morrison, spoke last week at the Senior Citizen’s Learning Center, and gave another example of the Lane family architectural connections or maybe disconnections. Mills B. Lane Sr. was responsible for tearing down buildings along Liberty Street and starting construction of the original DeSoto Hotel in 1888. Mills Jr. was responsible for tearing down the old DeSoto and putting up the new one in 1968.

Rexanna Keller Lester is working on a book about Mills Bee Lane IV and his preservation legacy.

For more on architecture and the history of the South, click on the “Books” tab at the top of the page.


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