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Arts and History Come Alive in Gaffney

Marie McAden Marie McAden
A former staffer with The Miami Herald, Marie moved to SC in 1992. She is passionate about the outdoors, and enjoys exploring the state’s many natural treasures from the Lowcountry to the Upstate.
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In Gaffney, arts and history come together like peaches and cream. And nowhere is it more deliciously entertaining than at the Gaffney Visitors Center and Art Gallery.

In this historic building, once home to the city’s old post office, you can admire the work of local and visiting artists and learn about the role Gaffney played in the American Revolution—all under one roof. Both exhibits are free and open to the public.

The gallery showcases artwork created by the Cherokee Alliance of Visual Artists (CAVA) in six exhibitions a year, including an annual juried show. If you’re lucky, you may even catch an artist at work in CAVA’s studio space.

Rotating exhibits also include the work of visiting artists and traveling museum shows. Be sure to pop into the CAVA gift shop to purchase a unique memento of your visit. Pottery, paintings, jewelry, wood art, handmade scarves and more are for sale year-round.

Just steps away is a Revolutionary War display, chronicling the history of the Southern Campaign in the Upstate, with artifacts and stories of some of the soldiers and civilians who engaged in the epic struggle for independence.

Cherokee County History and Arts Museum offers a more comprehensive look at the war and the cultural heritage of Backcountry South Carolina. Located on the historic mustering grounds of the S.C. Militia, the museum features 8,000 square feet of permanent exhibits covering everything from Native Americans to moonshine runners.

In its four galleries, you’ll find dozens of displays on the history of the area, with thousands of artifacts on frontier life, industrial-era iron and limestone mining, fruit farming and more, along with photographs and vestiges of once-popular attractions.

A 90-foot mural of the Battle of Cowpens serves as the backdrop for a room dedicated to the American Revolutionary War. Displayed items include a 3-pounder field cannon used by the British in the pivotal battle.

And as its name implies, the museum also showcases the work of local visual artists and crafters.

Capri on Main is all about the arts in a historic setting. Opened in 1936, this Gaffney institution operated as a movie theater for 72 years before transforming into a venue for live music, improv, theatrical performances, documentary screenings, open mic nights and other events.

Gaffney Little Theatre, in the heart of the historic downtown, offers more in the way of theater productions. Starring both local and out-of-town actors, the annual lineup of shows runs the gamut from “Disney’s 101 Dalmatians” to “The Odd Couple” to murder-mystery “Felons, Flappers and Foul Play.”

Limestone College’s School of Fine Arts also stages a variety of plays and musicals each year in its intimate, 150-seat Limestone Center Theatre, as well as the larger Fullerton Auditorium.

In addition, the college presents a wide range of concerts, showcasing the talents of the student chorus, indoor drumline and wind ensemble, among others. Visual art exhibitions in the Granberry Hall Art Gallery also are open to the public.

Movie fans can catch the latest Hollywood blockbusters in comfort at The Big E Gaffney, featuring stadium seating, digital projection and surround sound.

If you’re traveling to Gaffney to visit the Revolutionary War battle sites, you may want to schedule your trip to town during one of the special events offered at Cowpens National Battlefield. Among the most popular is the anniversary celebration held in January. It includes an encampment, historic weapons firing demonstrations, a wreath-laying ceremony, guided battlefield walks and 18th-century music concerts.

Marie McAden
A former staffer with The Miami Herald, Marie moved to SC in 1992. She is passionate about the outdoors, and enjoys exploring the state’s many natural treasures from the Lowcountry to the Upstate.