Less Traveled

Page Ivey



Not just a tour of homes, a tour of plantations and history

Posted 3/3/2014 12:31:00 PM

For two days this month, you can take a peek behind the moss curtain that hides dozens of plantations and historic homes in Georgetown County.

For more than 60 years, Prince George Winyah Episcopal Church has been getting private owners of former rice plantations and other grand homes to open to the public for one weekend.

This year’s tours are March 28-29, with different homes and historic locations featured each day. Both tours begin at the church and end with tea at Winyah Indigo Society Hall.

The first stop on the tour is a historic home/museum that is always open to the public.

The Kaminski House was built in the mid- to late-1700s by merchant Paul Trapier, who has been called the “King of Georgetown.” It was later owned by another merchant, Heiman Kaminski, whose family deeded the house to the city of Georgetown in 1972.

Another stop on the tour is Hopsewee Plantation, which was the birthplace of Thomas Lynch Jr. Lynch was one of the South Carolina signers of the Declaration of Independence, replacing his father who had suffered a stroke during the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. The younger Lynch was just 26 when he signed. His father died on his way home to South Carolina. The younger Lynch was presumed drowned in 1779 when his ship bound for France was lost at sea. Thomas Lynch Jr. was just 30 years old.

The connection with the Lynches is what put Hopsewee on the National Register of Historic Places, but it didn’t become a thriving rice plantation until subsequent owners, the Hume family, made use of the know-how and labor of African slaves to begin producing hundreds of tons of rice in the 1800s.

Other stops on this year’s tour include: Belle Isle Yacht Club, Millbrook, Rice Hope, The Oaks plantation and the Santee Gun Club.

Most of the plantations on the tours are privately owned and are only open to the public during the tour sponsored by the Episcopal Church Women.

The Prince George Men’s Ministry holds its annual oyster roast and pig-picking to coincide with the first night of the tour. Tickets for that event are $25 and the event starts at 6 p.m., March 28 at Hazzard Marine, 200 S. Meeting St.

Home tour tickets are $40 for a single day or $70 for both days. Houses will be open from 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. each day. Histories and maps showing the routes for the day are provided with tickets.

Advance tickets are available by mail through March 14. If any tickets remain, they will be sold at the Parish Hall on the day of the tour. Bag lunches also are available for $5. 

Address ticket and lunch requests to Plantation Tours, P.O. Box 1307, Georgetown, S.C. 29442. For more information, contact Lisa Collins at (843) 545-8291.

Hallowed Ground: Prince George Winyah Episcopal Church in Georgetown

Posted 2/15/2014 2:22:00 PM

Prince George parish was formed in 1721 and named for the English prince who later became King George II. The original church was located about 12 miles north of the current city of Georgetown.

As the port city was developed and the numbers of rice planters in the region grew, the parish split, creating a Prince Frederick’s Parish where the old church stood and moving the new Prince George Winyah Parish to the city. A rector was sent from the English Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign parts and the first service was held in 1747.

The church building was completed in 1755 and still includes the old-style box pews that were rented or owned by parishioners, helping to fund the church. Its features include a Jacobean gable and an arcaded belfry with a cupola.

The church was twice occupied by “foreign” soldiers: first by British soldiers in the Revolutionary War, then by U.S. soldiers during Civil War.

The church history indicates that the stained-glass window behind the altar is English and was relocated from a slave chapel at Hagley Plantation, north of the city, on the Waccamaw River. Other glass windows were added early in the 20th century.

The church cemetery is surrounded by a wall of handmade brick and includes the graves of prominent early South Carolinians, including 19th century Gov. Robert Allston.

Prince George is one of the oldest continuously operating churches in the state and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Prince George Winyah Episcopal Church is located at 300 Broad St. in Georgetown and is open 11:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays from March through October. Year-round worship services held Sunday at 8, 9 and 11 a.m. Call (843) 546-4358 for more information or click here.

Hallowed Ground: “Mother Emanuel” is home to one of the oldest black congregations in the country

Posted 2/2/2014 12:17:00 PM

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston is the oldest AME church in the South and is home to one of the oldest black congregations in the country.

The current building, in Gothic Revival style, was built after the 1886 Charleston earthquake. But the congregation goes back to 1791, when a group of freedmen and slaves organized religious services.

After a break with the Charleston’s Methodist Episcopal church in a burial ground dispute, black church members formed a new congregation in 1818 under the leadership of the Rev. Morris Brown. The church was affiliated with what was then known as the Free African Society and had about 1,400 members. Brown and other ministers of the church were jailed for violating local laws barring religious gatherings of blacks without white supervision.

The church and its founders were central figures in a planned slave rebellion in 1822. The rebellion was planned by Denmark Vesey, a former slave who had purchased his freedom from a slave trader in 1799 with the proceeds from a winning lottery ticket. Vesey was a successful carpenter and began organizing the rebellion in 1821. He also was one of the church’s founders, which led to an investigation of the church when the rebellion plan was uncovered. More than 300 people were arrested in the plot and 35 – including Vesey – were executed.

The church was burned and Brown left for Philadelphia, where he became the second bishop of the AME denomination. The church was eventually rebuilt, but the failed rebellion had rattled the white population and all-black churches were outlawed in 1834. The congregation met in secret until the end of the Civil War, when the church was formally reorganized and the name Emanual adopted.

The current building was completed in 1891 and has undergone only minor restoration since, making it one of the few historic churches that retains its original appearance inside.

The church is located at 110 Calhoun St. in historic downtown Charleston and is open to the public 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2-4 p.m. Monday-Friday. Sunday worship begins at 9:30 a.m. Call (843) 722-2561 for information.

Hallowed Ground: Church built by Civil War refugees

Posted 1/19/2014 6:44:00 PM

One of the oldest churches in Florence is also one of the prettiest. St. John’s Episcopal Church was established in 1865, serving mostly Civil War refugees from the coast. The town then was little more than a railroad junction and had been home to a POW stockade during the war.

The church got its start in a classroom offered by schoolteacher Frances Church as a meeting place for Episcopal services.

Church history says the name St. John came after the death of the Rev. Walter C. Guerry. Guerry had been ordained on St. John the Baptist Day and took the text for his first – and only – sermon from the Gospel of John. But Guerry became ill and died within weeks of that sermon, and the church chose the name St. John in his honor.

The church’s first building was a few blocks away on the other side of what would become downtown Florence, but that structure was damaged by an earthquake in 1886.

The current building on Dargan Street between Evans and Palmetto was designed by Silas McBee and built with stone from Anson Quarries in Wadesboro, N.C. The first service was held in the building just before Christmas 1889, though the building was not completed for another year.

In the early 20th century, the church’s pastor, the Rev. Harold Thomas, set about creating missions within the parish to minister to railroad workers and children living in East Florence. Thomas left St. John’s, then returned a few years later and shocked the congregation by using a motorcycle to get to various far-flung missions within the parish. His missionary zeal was infectious, and the church congregation grew to more than 250 by 1911.

Thomas stayed at St. John’s until 1917 and was followed by Wilmer Poyner, who served nearly 30 years and had such an impact on the community that a local school was named for him. Now the Poyner Adult Education Center in Florence, the school can be seen from the churchyard.

During Poyner’s term, congregants decided to add a parish house in 1922 rather than build a new church. The parish house was dedicated to the memory of Frances Church, who offered up the first meeting space.

It was also during this time (1928) that William Guerry, nephew of St. John’s first rector, a former St. John’s rector himself and bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, was shot by an angry priest and later died.

That priest, who also shot and killed himself, was angry over Guerry’s efforts to minister to black congregants within the Episcopal Church. It was a battle that would race inside and outside the church, South Carolina and the rest of the nation for the better part of the next 50 years.

Poyner saw St. John’s through both world wars and the Great Depression. He retired in 1946.

While St. John’s building has undergone several renovations over its nearly 150 years, the church today retains its 19th century beauty.

The church holds Sunday services at 7:45, 9 and 11 a.m. It is located at 252 S. Dargan St. Click here or call (843) 662-5585 for more information.

Five small towns to visit near Charleston

Posted 1/19/2014 4:00:00 PM

So you are coming to Charleston on vacation and want to want to venture off the beaten path a little? There are lots of nearby small towns filled with adventures you’ll only find in small town South Carolina.

Here are five that will welcome you and show you what the Lowcountry is all about.

1. Moncks Corner:‎ You can visit a community of Trappist monks at Mepkin Abbey, 1098 Mepkin Abbey Road, (843) 761-8509. Open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 1 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday; guided tours at 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. The monks live in silence and work their farm. The abbey offers weeklong and weekend retreats for spiritual renewal. 

For communing with nature, check out Cypress Gardens, 3030 Cypress Gardens Road, (843) 553-0515, open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 with discounts for seniors and children. See a black-water cypress swamp up close, get a look at all stages of a butterfly’s life or walk along three miles of hiking trails.

2. Awendaw:‎ The Center for Birds of Prey, 4872 Seewee Road, (843) 971-7474, open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. This fascinating facility provides medical care for injured raptors but also gives visitors a chance to see birds of prey in a natural setting.

Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, 5801 U.S. 17, (843) 928-3264, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, lets you see a variety of wildlife, including red wolves, in their natural habitat.

Francis Marion National Forest, 5821 U.S. 17, (843) 928-3368, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, is home to a variety of species, including the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker.

3. Walterboro:‎ Get a taste of the Lowcountry in Walterboro at Duke’s Barbecue, 949 Robertson Boulevard, (843) 549-1446. Open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, until 9 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday. Duke’s plays to all South Carolina barbecue tastes by offering all four major sauce types. 

Get a glimpse into history at the Slave Relic Museum, 208 Carn St., (843) 549-9130. Open 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. This museum is located a 19th century house.

And there’s shopping downtown. Start at the South Carolina Artisans Center, 318 Wichman St., (843) 549-0011. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday, with 250 juried artists displaying their wares in a variety of mediums. There also are a dozen antique shops, including Albert’s Attic (843) 549-9221, 545 E. Washington St., Green Lady Gallery (843) 782-4569, 259 E. Washington St. and Lowcountry Antiques (843) 549-2101, 251 E. Washington St.

4. Summerville:‎ This time of year, the best activity in “the birthplace of sweet tea” is shopping. Check out People, Places & Quilts, 129 W. Richardson Ave., (843) 871-8872, open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, for locally made folk art and old and new quilts. 

Art Central Gallery, 130 Central Ave., (843) 871-0297, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday and offers a a selection of paintings, photography, jewelry, pottery and woodcarving.

Stop nearby at Marigolds, 145 Central Ave., (843) 851-2828, open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, for antique furniture, linens, art, silver and glassware.

5. Ridgeville: More of a crossroads than a town, Ridgeville is home Givhans Ferry State Park, 746 Givhans Ferry Road, (843) 873-0692. Open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. from April through September; closes earlier during fall and winter weekdays. This park is part of the 56-mile Edisto River Canoe and Kayak Trail. And while it can be a little chilly for paddling in the winter, there is a mountain bike trail and campground. Rustic cabins are available for rent.