Arts and Culture 2011

Amy Holtcamp

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

Museum of the Week – The Sumter County Museum

Posted 6/29/2010 9:45:00 AM

Revolutionary War hero Gen. Thomas Sumter is one of South Carolina's most celebrated sons. He gives his name to a county, a city and to the famous Fort Sumter in Charleston. In addition to his heroics on the battlefield, Gen. Sumter is even more famous for another contribution to S.C. culture: his nickname -- the Gamecock -- is the mascot for the University of South Carolina.

But Gen. Sumter is just one of the South Carolinians you will learn about at the Sumter County Museum. This museum is actually a complex of several small museums that transport you to different eras of South Carolina life.

The first is the splendid Williams-Brice House. Built in 1916 by R. Virginia Moses Phelps (who inherited the property from her father) and her husband, Aaron Cohen Phelps, the house is a wonderful example of Edwardian architecture with its rich woodwork and paneling. Several rooms are decorated in period style. Look for the initials ACP in the tiles of the vestibule.

Walk out of the Williams-Brice House and into the back of the property and you step even further back in time. In back of the ornate 20th century house is the Carolina Backcountry Homestead. Comprised of two original buildings that were relocated from southern Sumter County and six reproductions, the homestead brings to life a typical farm community from the years 1750-1850. Touches like the kitchen garden, overflowing with herbs and vegetables, really give you the feeling that you have stumbled upon a working farm and that the settlers, covered in sweat and mud from a day working in the fields, will saunter down the dirt road at any minute.

The museum is located at 122 N. Washington St. Look for the big dirt parking lot next to the Williams-Brice House across from the medical complex. Museum hours are Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $3 for adults and $1 for young people ages 6-17.

Make sure to call ahead for information on living history days at the museum, when costumed settlers give demonstrations in the Homestead. The telephone number is (803) 775-0908.

For more on the Sumter County Museum and for information on the other facilities like the genealogical center and archives or the Heritage Education Center visit www.sumtercountymuseum.org.