Matthew J. Perry, Jr. (b. 1921), lawyer, civil rights pioneer, and jurist, lived in a house on this site as a youth; the house was torn down in 1997. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II, then graduated from S.C. State College (now S.C. State University) in 1948. After graduating in the first class of the S.C. State Law School in 1951 Perry practiced law in Spartanburg, specializing in civil rights cases.
Perry returned to Columbia in 1961 as chief counsel of the S.C. State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). For fifteen years he tried numerous pivotal civil rights cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1976 Perry was appointed to the U.S. Military Court of Appeals, and in 1979 he became the first black U.S. district court judge in S.C.