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Hartsville Offers Arts, History and More

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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Located in the Pee Dee region of South Carolina, Hartsville is a small town with an unusual treasure of culture, character and opportunities for its residents and visitors. With booming industries and corporations, authentically charming residents, a lively downtown with hospitable eateries and prestigious educational institutions, Hartsville has more than enough to discover what you love.

But first, let’s travel back in time to Hartsville’s origins. In 1817, Thomas Edward Hart built a plantation along Black Creek and was the first postmaster of the area. The town became known as Hartsville as early as 1837. John Lide Hart, Thomas Hart's son, went on to develop Hartsville Plantation (now the current downtown), with a carriage factory, steam-powered sawmill and grist mill.

Major James Lide Coker, an early community leader and Citadel graduate, also played an integral role in the development of Hartsville by establishing a seed company, oil mill, fertilizer plant and the iconic J.L. Coker & Company General Store, which continues to be a landmark in the heart of downtown. The Coker family also founded Welsh Neck High School, the predecessor of Coker University. Major Coker's son, David Coker, developed strains of cotton and other crops.

Today, Hartsville remains a progressive city of education, industry and reinvention. The 100-year-old Coker University, nationally recognized as a liberal arts college, draws students from all over the world. In recent years, the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics, was built on the site of the Hartsville Cotton Mill.

The city also offers plenty in the way of culture. Visit the Hartsville Museum for local history, the Black Creek Arts Council for arts classes and events, and Center Theater to catch an amazing performance by a world-famous artist. You'll also want to check out the home of Thomas E. Hart, on the national register of historic places, and Kalmia Gardens at Coker University.

For recreation, go paddling on Prestwood Lake, enjoy a family day at Neptune Island Waterpark or sign up for one of the activities at Byerly Park Recreation Complex.

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.