Celebrating Laurens County's Heritage
Laurens County Museum will be extending its reach countywide
Laurens County’s rich history is displayed in collections housed in Clinton, Laurens and Gray Court. The Laurens County Museum’s board of directors wants Clinton residents to become more aware of its collections and plans for future exhibits.
To that end, the board conducted its January meeting on Thursday evening in Clinton, discussing a change in officers, recently conducted and upcoming programs, and plans for a new headquarters.
The Laurens County Museum is at 205 West Laurens St., Laurens, and soon will be transitioning into The Witherspoon Building across Main Street, Laurens, from the historic courthouse and monument square. With assistance from the Laurens Commission of Public Works, the museum will activate its fire-suppression sprinkler system, a key element of a $1 million transformation of a vacant building into a tourism draw. The sprinkler system will have 24/7/365 electronic monitoring (similar to a burglar alarm).
“It will be a very difficult act to follow, Robby Bell as chairman and the board’s leadership,” incoming board chair Carolyn Shortt said. “We will collect and exhibit artifacts of Laurens County’s significance in the nation and state. We want this museum to be prominent and central to the identity of the county, and to be a tourism destination.”
Bell said it has been a pleasure working with an action-oriented board, adding that he will remain on the museum’s building committee. Meeting monthly, the board works through a committee system that examines exhibits, building maintenance and development, public relations, social media and marketing, public events, and finance. The board took action to name the upstairs space in its new headquarters, The Witherspoon Building, as The Magnolia Room. The space has been booked for three wedding receptions.
The Clinton Museum will be re-activated, as soon as an inventory of the materials housed there is completed. The Culbertson Backcountry Settlement in Gray Court conducts a fall Pioneer Day. And Musgrove Mill State Historic Site, Hwy 56 east of Clinton, commemorates an important Revolutionary War skirmish.
With the Laurens County Museum, these attractions tell the county’s story. Shortt said, “We want to be sure that people know, we are a museum for all of Laurens County.”
The museum played host to a tea and auction, and movie night and Santa visit in December.
It will host a Member Appreciation Drop-in, 2-5 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 21. Classes on Pre-Columbian Native American Culture in Laurens County and The Piedmont are scheduled Mondays, Feb. 5 - March 5, 5:30 - 6:45 p.m., at the USC-Union, Laurens campus. There is a class fee ($50, non-members; $45, members). The museum is planning an April 20 annual membership gala and a May 6 spring tea.
The West Laurens Street location is open Sundays and Thursdays, 2-5 p.m. (info: 864-681-0670). A Presbyterian College intern handles these open-to-the-public hours, and board members discussed conducting their committees meetings at these times to interact with the public. Upcoming full board meeting dates are Feb. 1, March 1, April 5 and May 3, at 6 p.m.; during the winter, the board will meet at the Laurens Street location, transitioning into The Witherspoon Building as the weather gets warmer (to save on heating costs). Out-going board member Phil Adair is in charge of rentals for The Magnolia Room, booked for its first wedding reception this May.
Once all three floors of The Witherspoon Building are ready for occupancy, the Laurens County Museum will house one of the nation’s largest collections of Native American artifacts, both local and from the Yadkin Valley in North Carolina. Basement space in envisioned for an archeology lab, where students can conduct extensive research into how ancient tools and weapons were formed and used.
Out-going board member Tana Adams is taking on the project of window displays for The Witherspoon Building. These will reflect local heritage, and draw attention along Main Street, Laurens, to the building’s developing role in history and tourism.
The museum board also will be instrumental in promoting an upcoming book, Part 3 of the “Discovering Laurens County” series. Board member Ernie Segars said the volume of about 500 pages focusing on The Civil War era soon will be going through the editing process.
(More info: www.laurenscountymuseum.us)