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Born September 5, 1902, in South Carolina, Heyward S. Singley was one of South Carolina’s most significant architects from the mid-twentieth century who designed dozens of institutional and commercial buildings in both North Carolina and South Carolina between 1928 and his death on August 1, 1959. Among these buildings are a number of South Carolina National Guard properties. Several of his buildings are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, including the Columbia Central Fire Station and the Harden Street Substation in Richland County, the Hartsville Armory in Darlington County, and the Newberry County Courthouse in Newberry County, for which he designed a substantial addition in 1938.
Singley completed his architectural training at Clemson A&M College (today’s Clemson University) in 1924, then worked for a series of architectural firms in Florida, Texas, and North Carolina between 1924 and 1932. He established his own practice in Prosperity, SC, then moved to Charleston in 1934 to work for the federal government on New Deal projects. In 1937, he moved to Columbia, where he again established his own practice. During his career, he served as an officer in the South Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, including as its president for five years, and he was very active in a number of other professional and civic organizations.
The South Carolina National Guard first contracted with Singley in 1939 to complete seven armory buildings throughout the state, as well as six standard garages connected to those armories and the Searchlight Battery Garage at the Greenville armory location. The following year, Singley completed another six armory buildings, and in 1941 brought contracts for another five armory buildings and complementary garages. By 1942, funding for armory building was running dry in South Carolina, and Singley completed just three buildings for the Guard—two armories (Hampton and Gaffney) and one garage (Hampton). Singley added another two armories in 1944.
When the South Carolina National Guard began its aggressive campaign to build motor storage garages beginning in 1948, Singley secured the contracts for the design of twenty of those buildings, no doubt because of his successes with the earlier armory buildings. When the Guard sought to build a new maintenance shop, oil storage buildings, and a motor storage garage at its Columbia armory location in 1951, Singley took on that project as well. His work for the Guard continued throughout the 1950s, including a motor storage garage in Conway (1952), armories at Gaffney, Woodruff, Mullins, and York (1953), service centers at Gaffney, Abbeville, Greenville, and Hartsville (1953), and armories at Bishopville, Lexington, Seneca, Hemingway, Barnwell, Edgefield, St. Matthews, and an unspecified naval base (1954). Other armory projects included Charleston Heights (1955), Ware Shoals (1956), Williamston (1956), and Bamberg (contracted 1958). He was also contracted to complete the McCormick and Saluda armories, but Blume and Cannon took over these projects following Singley’s death.
It is noteworthy that several of the architects who designed armories following Singley’s death had at one time served as draftsmen or associates with Singley’s firm. Among these were Robert Nyle Jackson, Jr., David LeRoy Parrott, and E. Stewart Blume, Jr.