The Greenbook of South Carolina

The Greenbook of South Carolina: A Travel Guide to African American Cultural Sites is a new website I heard about recently on the news. Finally, a comprehensive webpage devoted to African-American cultural sites in South Carolina. I’d found a handful of brochures dedicated to tourist places especially for the Pee Dee area, but nothing like this.

With more than three hundred areas in its database, one can search for places to visit in various ways – map, category, or a specific location. Going on a road trip? You can customize an itinerary for yourself. Or travel along the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor.

Brainerd Institute in Chester

Categories to search under are: Cultural Attractions, Historic Cemeteries, Historic Churches, Historic Districts, Historic Markers, and Historic School. One can also search by Tags. Maybe a little fine tuning is needed, or maybe I’m just picky in my searches. I found what I wanted in the end, Rosenwald schools, and they have a good list of then.

If you wonder about the name of the website, The Greenbook, it comes from the travel guide used by African Americans to find places where they’d be safe to sleep overnight and eat while traveling especially in places where there were curfews for African Americans. Victor Green, a postman from New York first published the guide in 1936. It was printed up until the mid sixties. Google it, because it’s very interesting.

Mary McLeod Bethune Park in Lee County

https://greenbookofsc.com/

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Historic Columbia Foundation Brochures

I’ve mentioned these brochures before and today I’m going to go a little more in-depth. These are nice, quality, attractive, little booklets put out by the Historic Columbia Foundation. They are 4″ x 9″ closed (8″ x 9″ open) with a fold out map in the back. The number of pages vary. There are also one page pamphlets. Besides giving background information on various historical sites in Columbia, they make excellent souvenirs.

I nabbed most of mine at the visitor center on Lincoln Street. It’s located at the convention center. You can also pick them up at the Robert Mills House gift shop on Blanding Street. One can’t download them from the website (historiccolumbia.org), which is a pity, but the website does have different tours to view.

The brochure contain driving and walking tours, most of which are in the downtown area. Some expand further out such as the African-American Heritage Sites Tour. You’ll need a car for that one. Most of the others are guides for walking.

Each brochure begins with a short introduction. Next are pages with of the stops on the tour complete with a picture or drawing of site mentioned and a description. On the last page is the fold out map. It makes learning about Columbia fun.

If you don’t want to do the tour thing on your own, the foundation offers tours for a fee. Visit the website to find out more.

Columbia Main Street

I picked up the Main Street: Self-Guided Architectural Walking Tour brochure at the visitor center on Lincoln Street. The brochure is written by the Historic Columbia Foundation. You can’t download it (at least not in 2017). As soon as I had my hands on it, I planned my trip. The map inside points out the places of interest and there’s nice information about each building highlighted.

The tour starts at the capital building, but I started at Main and Hampton and worked my way up, then down. It being Saturday, Soda City, the downtown market, was in full swing. If you don’t want to wade through people, you may want to come another day. Sunday should be nice. If you want to do a little bit of shopping and eating, come Saturday.

While most buildings are from the twentieth and twenty-first century, there are a few from the 1800’s. When General Sherman and his troops came through they pretty much burned Columbia down to the ground. Throughout the years older buildings have been updated and rehabilitated. Of one, 1320 Main, only the 1912 façade remains, having been incorporation into the much younger (built 2006) Meridian Building. But even newer structures have character. Here’s a shortened tour.

1200 Main is Columbia’s third skyscraper. It was built in 1914 and updated twice, 1965 and 1980. It’s in the Chicago style of architecture with Tudor Gothic elements. It houses the local ABC station.

1210 – 14 Main – The Brennen Building. This is one of the oldest buildings downtown, built around 1870. It’s a good representation of what buildings looked like after the Civil War. The balcony, half hidden by the tree, was added later.

1230 Main – First Citizens Bank Building. It was built in 2006. The style is post-modern with Art Deco influences.

1320 Main – Former Consolidated Building and now an entrance to the Meridian building. The façade itself is at 1328 Main and was built 1912 in the Spanish Gothic style.

1332 Main – Arcade Mall. Interior. This too is from 1912. I always though it weird they had a mall like this back then. I always though of malls as something in the late twentieth century. It’s L-shaped and was Columbia’s first indoor shopping center.

1339 Main – This is an interesting building in an intriguing style – New Brutalism. I’d never heard of that before.

1400 Main – Palmetto building, now Sheraton Hotel. This was Columbia’s second skyscraper (the first one is the Barringer Building at 1338). It was built in 1913, updated in the 1980’s, and rehabilitated in 2008. The style is the Chicago School and Gothic Revival. It almost succumbed to the wrecking ball, but survived.

1508 Main – Kress Building. Art Deco. It was built in 1934 and rehabilitated in 1999. During the Civil Rights movement, black and white college students held sit-ins at the white’s only lunch counter.

To date myself, I remember once going into Kress some time before it closed. I found it unique in that it was L shaped with an entrance on Hampton as well as Main Street. The façade is terra cotta.

1530 Main – Canal Dime Savings Bank. This Richardsonian Romanesque style building was built in 1895. The Canal Dime Bank closed three years later, but three other banks used this building until 1936. I like it because it’s so different.

1607 – 13 Main – These three buildings are, from left to right:

State Theater (now Nickelodeon), built 1870’s, modified 1936, rehabilitated 2012.

King’s, built 1870’s, modified early 1900’s and 1970s.

Lever Building, 1903, original storefront altered.

Main Street

Main Street. Where all the action is. Or used to be. Or where it’s at again. It all depends on where you are. Driving around, you’ll never know what kind of Main Street you’ll find and how you’ll find it. Maybe there’s not much left, physically, but the memories are still there and there’s always something interesting. If you’re lucky you’ll bump into someone who remembers what it used to be, bad or good.

According to the Municipal Association of South Carolina, there are 270 towns and cities with a population of 50 and higher. 270 main streets, they maybe called something other than ‘Main’ Street. 270 downtowns. Somehow I thought there’d be more.

Big or small, I like to take a walk around Main Street, time willing. Charleston, Columbia, Greenville, etc, all have bustling downtowns. In the smaller places, the sidewalks might roll in after six p.m. leaving you amazed the store’s closed so early. It happened to me. Here are a few downtowns, Main Streets, I’ve taken pictures of. Enjoy.

Sumter with Opera House

North

Newberry with their opera house

Mullins

Georgetown                                                    Cheraw

Great Falls

Chester                                                  Olar

 

Train Depots

Aiken Train Depot

I’ve always been a fan of train locomotives and the railroad. I’ve traveled on a variety of trains, no Amtrak, but on some special excursions from kiddie trains to old time trains powered by locomotives. I decided to indulge my interest in railroads by stopping at train depots and taking pictures of them and learning more of the railroad industry in South Carolina. At the website below one can see how the industry grew throughout the years starting in the 1830’s when the Charleston to Hamburg line started. There’s also a list of all the Railroad lines, passenger and freight, that existed in the state from the Air Line Railroad to the Wilson to Summerton Railroad. There’s more too so check it out.

http://www.carolana.com/SC/Transportation/railroads/home.html

Two other good website not to miss are:

http://scdepots.com/ and http://www.sciway.net/sc-photos/tag/trains-depots/

The former lists the train depots by county. Click on a county name and find all the depots by county. The latter, Sciway, has always good information but its list is not as intensive as scdepots.

The South Carolina Railroad Museum in Winnsboro has a website: http://www.scrm.org/ Check it out to see when the train trip is scheduled to run. And, of course, don’t miss The Best Friend of Charleston Museum (http://bestfriendofcharleston.org/) which features a replica of the first train in South Carolina.

Focus on Columbia

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I’m going to be limited where I travel this year so I’ve decided to concentrate on sights in and around Columbia, our state’s capital. Every month I’ll go visit a new place for me, or maybe an old one. In January, I went to Riverbanks Zoo, but I’ll do a post on that later. Right now I’ll put links for places I’ve already written a post. There’s plenty to see and visit so keep tuned.

City of Columbia

https://47parkssc.wordpress.com/2015/11/15/columbia/

Congaree National Park

https://47parkssc.wordpress.com/2015/05/28/congaree-national-park/

Harbison State Forest

https://47parkssc.wordpress.com/2016/11/25/harbison-state-forest/

River Front Park

https://47parkssc.wordpress.com/2016/08/15/river-front-park-historic-columbia-canal/

Sesquicentennial Park

https://47parkssc.wordpress.com/2015/02/15/sesquicentennial-state-park/

Columbia Resources

I was surprised to find there are so little resources on tourist places in Columbia. Even the web sites didn’t do much for me although they offered some tidbits. Maybe because I already knew the sites they highlight. Maybe because they didn’t offer information on what I am interested in – low cost/no cost activities, walking tours, green spaces, and historical areas. The brochures I picked up at the visitor center are more chock full of ‘stuff’ than the websites. Book wise was the pretty much the same as the websites, general information only and emphasis on restaurants, shopping, and the higher priced activities.

Book wise the South Carolina travel books will have to do, but the websites are a better alternative.

 

Brochure Names (with associated web address)

Columbia South Carolina 5km/10km Historic Capital City Walk (www.columbiacvb.com)

General Sherman’s March on Columbia, South Carolina – Self Guided Tour (www.shermansmarch.com)

Home Places, Work Places, Resting Places: African-American Heritage Sites Tour (historiccolumbia.org)

Three Rivers Greenway (www.RiverAlliance.org)

 

Web Sites

http://www.columbiacvb.com/

http://www.historiccolumbia.org/

http://www.sciway.net/sc-photos/richland-county/

Courthouses

fairfield-winnsboro-06-fairfield-county-courthouse-christmas

Whenever I visit a county seat, I make sure to drive past the courthouse and take a photograph of it. Courthouses tell nice stories of history including how the county was formed. Some are pretty old, from around the time the county was created, and some fairly young. The styles vary with some ornate and picturesque and others looking like regular government buildings. Robert Mills, SC’s leading architect from the early 1800’s had his hand in a few like the one in Winnsboro (Fairfield County.)

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I’ve lived near two courthouses, the one in Hampton County which was built in 1878 and remodeled a few times. The last time they moved the fountain from the front to more to the side. The annual watermelon festival is held on the grounds of it. The Allendale courthouse was a few blocks from where I lived. The interior burned at the time a fact I didn’t hear until my mother asked me about it the next day. Even with the main road one block over I didn’t hear the sirens of the fire trucks roaring past. It’s since been renovated. Sad to say I don’t have a picture of it.

Here are a few more courthouses I’ve encountered in my travels.

union-union-12-union-co-courthouse

Union (Union County). This impressive neoclassical building was completed in 1913, replacing the Robert Mills courthouse of 1825. That was torn down in 1911. The police station down the road was also designed by Robert Mills.

Winnsboro (Fairfield Connty) This was designed by Robert Mills and built 1822-23. The distinctive circular staircase and piazza were added when the building was remodeled in 1939. This was when they covered the brick exterior in sandstone plaster. I think I would prefer to see the brick, but that’s just me. The picture is at the top of the post.

greenwood-greenwood-10-greenwood-co-courthouse

Greenwood (Greenwood County) A much more modern building that was built in 1967 to replace a previous building from 1898.

chester-chester-courthouse-02

Chester (Chester County) This was built in 1852.

Sumter  sumter-sumter-downtown-03-courthouse-sumter-statue

Newberry newberry-newberry-37-newberry-county-courthouse

McCormick mccormick-mccormick-04-mccormick-co-courthouse

To learn more about courthouses in SC, check out the website at sciway –

http://www.sciway.net/sc-photos/tag/courthouses/

Fall

bamberg-denmark-us321-04-fall-foilage

I realize I’m a little behind here talking about fall colors, but maybe there’ll still be some color when this piece is published. Fall is a great time to take daytrips. You don’t even have to go that far, just drive around town and admire the trees in people’s yards. In Chester I saw the most spectacular sights of bright yellow leaves under a bare tree. It was like shards of the sun had fallen. Didn’t get a picture of that, but did get another nice fall view there.

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Chester State Park

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Sesquicentennial State Park (Columbia)

fairfield-old-brick-church-10-leaves

On a stone wall around Old Brick Church in Fairfield County

chester-chester-brainard-institute-kumler-hall

Also in Chester County, in the town of Chester, Brainard Institute