Folks always ask me the highlights of my trip when I return from my travels. Not every location is as exotic as the other but I always feel refreshed coming back rom a trip and there are some things I cannot forget so here's a highlight slideshow!
Located right on the square is the fully restored theater house with the only new additions being air conditioning and rocking chair seats. Other claims to fame – listed on the National Register of Historic Places, uses the same rope pulled rigging system as in 1908 AND in the only hemp house remaining in SC. As mentioned in an earlier post, there were no shows at the time I visited but I did check out the venue nonetheless. This building also functions as their City Hall and welcomes visitors daily. The architecture here caught my attention and you will see in the images why that is.
Remember though that when visiting these areas, you are signing up for an experience with small town Americana. There might not be a whole lot to do so be prepared to simply chillax or if you do want to experience more then make sure you look up festivals and events in the area that coincide with the time of your trip. The area offers opportunities for golfing and antiquing as well as hunting, fishing and camping so those are other options you may want to consider. Old 96 isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but for those that it is, it is just right. I plan on heading back to the area sometime, to work on my book and a few other writing projects as I think the non-distractions here will be helpful to maintain focus.
Now this is a living history project of the Edgefield County Historical Society in Edgefield, SC. Given the area is famed for their local clay, the pottery here, as history has it, was created in the 1920s by this Landrum guy who decided to learn new pottery techniques and make utilitarian products. So expect lots of storing vessels, water jars, etc. He was known to be well educated, very intelligent, had varied interests and introduced, with other family members, the first alkaline-glazed stoneware manufacturing. (Good thing I took notes and pictures on my trip or I would not remember that!)
Sturdy, cheap and not injurious to health in any way, the pottery soon found its following among the population there in the 19th century. The African American slaves were the ones working away in these pottery workshops though and among them was one famous Dave the Slave or rather David Drake. He wrote little verses on his work, very simple but meaningful for the times.
So the story behind Dave goes – he was born a slave in the 1800s and was owned by Landrum’s brother whose last name was Drake and slaves in those days took on their owners’ names (I learned on this trip). He also worked at a newspaper that Landrum ran, which then explains probably how he happened to be able to read and write, considering slaves those days couldn’t do that. When he was freed from slavery at the end of the Civil War, he went by David Drake. It is believed there are records of him until the 1870s but no record in the 1880 census so I guess we have no way of saying what his last years were like. His stoneware is supposed to be on display at the Smithsonian!
Apparently glass jars were invented some point after and that resulted in a decreased demand for this type of pottery. But the designs and style are so steeped in history that they are much sought after and highly valued today. I definitely admit the designs are unique and so are the colors and the patterns drawn on them. Now there is a gentleman, Justin, who works there and makes similar designs. They will do custom pieces for you too but with that unique clay and patterns it is sure to be one of a kind.
The pottery is surely impressive and quite frankly if I owned a home I’d want a piece on my mantle to be able to share this story with others. The face mugs/monkey jars are a sure conversation starter.
Old Edgefield Pottery is located on 230 Simkins Street, Edgefield, SC29824.
Random general knowledge alert – There is an Abbeville in France and the founder of this district in SC was from there, which is how it came to be called Abbeville in the first place. Abbeville is known for prime roles in the American Revolution and Civil War. The historic district is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and Abbeville square is authentically Victorian in style given the architecture of the buildings.
The two historic homes I visited were interesting for me. I enjoy learning about other people, places and cultures even in present day, so I feel like the lives of the past have even more of an aura, an intrigue for me to learn more about them.
The Burt Stark House was built in the 1830s, is a Greek revival and the site of the final meeting between the cabinet and the war council during president Davis’ tenure. Several original furnishings and rooms are displayed. The Mcgowan-Barksdale-Bundy House is from 1888 and has Victorian era features such as turrets, stained glass, colorful exterior, unique roofline and trim etc. When I visited, this house was being decorated for a holiday event and looked simply gorgeous, so if anybody ever invites you for an occasion here say yes please!
I wasn’t expecting this gem in the middle of, what was essentially, for me, from a big city like Atlanta, nowhere. The complex is opened on specific times and by appointment so it might be best to check out the times and such here. It houses 3 spots of interest – the childhood home of the former Morehouse president, his school and then a museum with a wealth of curated information and pictures on his life and legacy. They’ve done a good job of really exposing the different facets of Mays that most of us, unless we were faithful fans of his, would have never known. I am surprised , in fact, to not have seen much about this in Atlanta, given his connection with the area, the college and the strong African American population here.
So his home and school were in Epworth but they moved it to this site in 2004. Not everything in these structures belonged to him but many pieces are representative of the time. Give yourself at least a half hour if you decide to read and look at every single picture and signage in the museum / interpretive center space. It might look small but there is tons of information. I did not have the time to stay for the video but hope you get to check it out. The home itself was originally in Epworth and then moved to this site to be a part of the complex. The Bruns Springs African American School was also moved from the Epworth area to this site. You can see everything from books and speeches to personal items and films on Dr Mays here. I hope you enjoy some of the pictures on the slide show that can give you a better idea.