901 Richland Street
Matthew J. Perry Federal Courthouse
Built in 2003, this courthouse honors one of South Carolina’s most prominent civil rights attorneys. Born in Columbia in 1921, Perry graduated from Booker T. Washington High School and served during World War II before attending college and law school at the segregated South Carolina State College. He later served as chief counsel for the SC NAACP, where he argued several landmark cases, including those that desegregated Clemson University and the University of South Carolina, Flemming v. SCE&G, which desegregated Columbia’s buses, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court case Edwards v. South Carolina, which afforded civil rights protestors broad legal protections. Perry was the first African American lawyer from the Deep South appointed to the federal bench and later the state’s first African American to sit on the US District Court.
The entry gate was made by African American blacksmith Phillip Simmons from Charleston. Simmons is known for elevating the practice of blacksmithing from utilitarian items such as nails, horseshoes and hinges to decorative pieces including gates and archways featuring native plants and animals.