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Lexington County Museum

Amy Holtcamp Amy Holtcamp

It's one thing to look at historical artifacts behind glass and velvet rope. It's another to be able to step inside a 200-year-old building and walk in the footsteps of the people who once lived there. The Lexington County Museum gives you ample opportunity to do just that at their complex of 36 historic structures.

The tour starts with Hazelius House, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The cottage once served as a residence for Ernest Hazelius, the headmaster of the Lutheran Seminary. But is perhaps better known as the place where, in 1891, evangelist Charlie Tillman penned "Give Me That Old Time Religion" after hearing the spiritual sung by an African-American group nearby. Tillman might have appropriated the song, but by doing so he imported the spiritual into the culture of the white south. His version of "Give Me that Old Time Religion" is credited with influencing the blend musical influences that we call Gospel.

Across the street from the Hazelius House is the John Fox House, which is also on the National Register of Historic Places and is the only house original to the property (the rest were moved here after the museum was founded in the 1970s).

The John Fox House was built in 1832 as a town home for John Fox, a prominent politician, public servant and plantation owner. The house is decorated in the style of the mid-19th century, and its yard contains several outbuildings that were typical of the time: slave quarters, a reconstructed kitchen, a smokehouse, dairies, a potato house, and a rare pigeon house, used for raising squab.

The Lexington County Museum has a number of other properties, including the oldest known structure in Lexington County, the Lawrence Corley House, which was built in 1772, and a one-room schoolhouse from the early 1800s.

Tours are given on a first-come, first-served basis by costumed guides who seem to know everything there is to know about Lexington County. If you are on a tight schedule, you might want to call ahead to ensure a guide is available and that the museum is not hosting a large school group. The telephone number is (803) 359-8369.

If you are thinking of visiting the museum consider attending its Christmas Open House on Dec. 12 from 2 to 5 p.m. Not only will there be tours, demonstrations, hot cider and gingerbread, but the museum's fire proof building also will be open, allowing visitors to get a rare peak at its collection of treasures including antique firearms and vintage quilts.

The Lexington County Museum is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. (last tour at 3:15 p.m.). Admission is $5 for adults and $2.00 for children. Click here for more information or call (803) 359-8369. 

Amy Holtcamp
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