OLDE ENGLISH DISTRICT, SC
Imagine traveling south from Charlotte, NC to Columbia, SC. Interstate 77 is the most direct route from one big city to the other and you can make the trip by car in less than 90 minutes, but why rush?
Positioned on either side of the Interstate, The Olde English District encompasses seven counties in the geographical center of SC. You can fly into Columbia or Charlotte, or simply make a 36-hour driving detour on your way to the Grand Strand, or the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The Olde English District is named for its abundance of English settlers and towns with English names (York, Lancaster, Chester, Chesterfield, etc.), and the number of battles fought here during the Revolutionary War.
History and military enthusiasts will love the area, but antiques lovers will be equally enthralled. And for outdoor recreation, it can’t be beat. For all those reasons and many more which can be found in their 116 page visitors’ brochure, the team at CarolinaLiving.com is offering a few tantalizing reasons why you should consider a 36-hour getaway in the Olde English District of South Carolina.
Arts and Crafts. Artists and craftspeople are drawn here, and the pottery tradition goes back for generations. There are galleries, studios, artists’ cooperatives, and talented people making jewelry, sculptures, paintings, mixed media, and folk art.
History and Genealogy. Museums can be found in many of the towns and they’re treasure troves of history. Restored homes, churches, libraries, and farms portray life as it used to be. Children will enjoy the old-fashioned tools and furnishings, while older folks will have a nostalgic look back at a simpler time.
Military History. This area was a hotbed of activity during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. The names and battlegrounds you’ll see literally jump out of the history books. Several museums feature firearms and cannons from those battles, and some of the more famous sites have become well-visited parks and visitor attractions.
Outdoors. More than 20 golf courses entice rounds of play that are as varied as the terrain and imagination of the designers. Boating, kayaking, fishing, equestrian activities, bird watching, team sports, and even skydiving can be enjoyed here. Parks, driving tours and picnic areas offer more low-key ways to enjoy the natural beauty.
ACCOMMODATIONS WILL BE EASILY FOUND
There are excellent national chains along the interstate, but if you’d like to explore one of the small towns, choose one of 19 B&Bs that will take you back in time as you enjoy luxurious surroundings in an antebellum home, or historical property.
Here are three possibilities.
Kilburnie, the Inn at Craig Farm, in Lancaster, feels like an intimate hotel. The beautifully restored antebellum mansion offers the look of a long-ago time, but includes high-tech comforts, including hydro-therapy whirlpools and high-speed wireless internet throughout. Filled with rich history and architectural significance, the Inn features remarkable crown molding and other design elements. Guests will enjoy the nature trails in the surrounding Craig Farm, which has its own historical significance.
Bloomsbury Inn, in Camden, is an award-winning inn which has been named one of the “Top Ten Bed and Breakfasts” in America by BedandBreakfast.com. Bruce and Katherine Brown, innkeepers, are retired U.S. Air Force Colonels who purchased this magnificent property in 2004 and restored and renovated it to perfection. Beautifully authentic, with gracious amenities and high-tech features, the property is frequently the site of weddings as well as romantic getaways.
Still further, Honeysuckle Acres B&B in Winnsboro, looks like an antebellum mansion, and innkeepers Harold and Patricia Frish make you feel like an honored guest. If these don’t fit your travel plans, there are 16 more to choose from. No worries about where to lay your head, here.
Most of our Day Trippin’ excursions cover one town. This is a much larger area, although you can easily get from north to south or east to west (via Highway 9) in no time at all. So we’re going to do things a bit differently and give you options to provide a sense of this very unique area and what you can expect to find there. Since history figures so prominently, let’s begin with a few attractions that help bring history to life.
The Cheraw Historic District is one of the first in South Carolina to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The district's 213 acres contain more than 50 antebellum homes and churches. A free self-touring guide may be obtained at the Visitors’ Center. Note: As the hometown of the late Dizzy Gillespie, the town has paid homage to the jazz great with a beautiful statue in downtown.
Andrew Jackson State Park."Old Hickory" wrote that he was born on South Carolina soil on March 15, 1767, at the plantation where his uncle, James Crawford, lived. Created as a memorial to the seventh president of the United States, this 360-acre park features a museum and a one-room schoolhouse illustrating life in the Carolina backcountry in the 18th century.
Chester County Historical Society Museum and Archives is located in the old 1914 Chester Jail. The museum includes notable collections of Native American Artifacts and firearms from the Revolutionary Era to the present, period costumes, relics of the Civil War, and the Henry O. Nichols Photography Collection.
Historic Brattonsville. Learn how people farmed the land, cooked their food and entertained themselves in the 1800s at this 775-acre Revolutionary War living history site. More than 30 historic structures showcase the region. Historical farming techniques and day-to-day activities are presented by costumed interpreters year-round, who also offer African-American historic interpretation. Rare heritage breed farm animals are cared for here, just as they were hundreds of years ago.
The Battle of Musgrove Mill was fought on this site near the Enoree River on August 19, 1780. A detachment of American militia engaged and defeated a superior British force composed almost entirely of loyalist troops. Occurring at a time when American prospects for winning the Revolution seemed to grow dimmer by the day, the success at Musgrove Mill bolstered patriot morale in the Carolina backcountry. It’s now a state park.
Rose Hill Plantation State Historic Site offers a look at antebellum South Carolina. There’s a restored mansion with period furnishings, beautiful gardens, historic trees and a nature trail on the Tyger River, near Union. It was originally the home of SC's secessionist Governor, William Henry Gist.
South Carolina Railroad Museum. Equipment owned by the museum includes #44, a ten wheeler steam locomotive once operated in the SC Low-country. Train rides are offered that will delight all ages.
Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site covers 107 acres in a complex that includes the 18th-Century town site, furnished 1785 Craven House, restored log cabins, fortifications and the restored Joseph Kershaw House which served as headquarters for Lord Cornwallis.
STOP AND EAT
Visit The Front Porch (803.789.5029) for a real down-home southern dining experience. It’s a meat-and-two country restaurant, but look on any review site such as Chowhound or Trip Advisor and you’ll find comments like, “Best pie ever,” “wonderful cornbread,” “best fried chicken,” and more. Find it just off Exit 65 on I-77 near Richburg. Don’t go if you’re dieting.
Depending upon your location, another great option is Midway BBQ, near Union. Although the BBQ is wonderful, those in the know choose the chicken stew. John T. Edge (founder of the Southern Foodways Alliance and Food Network judge), says that if he had to pick one last meal, it would be the chicken stew at Midway. The hash is another winner, so go hungry.
There are others, of course, including Charley’s Restaurant in Lancaster (try the crab cakes with corn relish,or the cream of tomato soup). Call 803.285.1145 for more information.
You simply can’t be in the area without learning more about the Catawba Indian Nation. As the only federally recognized tribe in South Carolina, the Catawba have a long and proud history in South Carolina, and have been mentioned in written accounts since the mid-sixteenth century. They have a strong tradition in making pottery, which is attractive and distinctive. Dancing has maintained a strong tradition, which continues to this day.
The Catawba Cultural Preservation Project Center maintains a collection of historic American Indian displays and artifacts. The old reservation schoolhouse features numerous displays plus a craft store. A nature trail takes you down to an archaeological site, a Native American garden, and a reconstructed bark house. At the end of the trail you can get a magnificent view of the Catawba River.
A pow wow is held every spring in the Winthrop University Coliseum in Rock Hill. Check the website for more details. Find the Cultural Center near Rock Hills between the Catawba River and State Highway 188.
A bit further south you’ll find Bob Doster's Backstreet Studio, Gallery and Garden, located in Downtown Lancaster. The artist has been providing artwork/educational programs/arts resources to individuals, non-profit & governmental organizations, schools & corporations for more than thirty years. His work is fascinating and attractive.
More afternoon possibilities include recreation, including water sports and walking trails, ATV trails and cycling paths.
For an upscale dining experience (in a former brothel) consider the Passion8 Bistro in York County. Local ingredients are used and the Chef, Luca Annunziata, along with his wife, Jessica, are the owners. Chef Luca is from Sorrento, Italy; the land of lemons and sunshine. He developed a penchant for lovingly prepared cuisine early on under his mother’s traditional tutelage. Their food is superb but we can’t offer a recommendation, because the menu changes daily. This we can say for sure: your plate will offer a feast for the eyes, the soul and the body.
Depending on your choice of accommodations, you may want to eat in and enjoy a gourmet start to your day. Two more options have been touted by Southern Living among their five best breakfasts in SC.
Jomars Family Restaurant, in Lancaster, may have gotten the nod from Southern Living because of its remarkable fatback (think of bacon with a twist), but with a Greek family at the helm, their feta-stuffed Greek omelet is worth a second look. This is Southern fare, Greek fare, and an all-round yummy and memorable way to start your day. Go ahead, try the fatback. You’ll never taste better!
If you’re closer to Rock Hill, Nishie G’s also made the cut. You’ll find traditional southern cooking here, with a variety of meats, including smoked sausage, and even livermush. The service is great and food delightful. And if you really want something different, they offer a Philly Steak biscuit to go with your grits and gravy.
Lell’s Café is another super option in Rock Hill. These folks are as committed to the community as they are to serving wonderful local food.
When all else fails, branch out and stop where you see cars and people. Southerners love their breakfasts, and lots of independent restaurants can be found here.
Your options for today’s fun include everything you didn’t get to yesterday, as well as shopping. Antique shops reflect the English heritage of so many families and there are bargains to be had. Even if you’re “just looking,” you’ll see beautiful pieces reminiscent of Great Aunt Margaret’s home with its wraparound porch and joggling board. With close to 50 antique galleries, malls and junk shops on the registry, (with names like Shady Lady and Sentimental Journey), you’ll have retail therapy to make any bargain hunter happy.
If you’re near the small town of Boykin (home of the adorable spaniel of the same name), stop by the Broom Place and purchase your own authentic best-broom-you’ll-ever-use gift for yourself. Visit Boykin, near Camden, and you can purchase grits from the Boykin Company Grille to take home. Antiques and dining make this a great stop as well.
There’s more of course. Go to www.OldeEnglishDistrict.com and download their 116 page visitors’ brochure. Or, look through the website and easily customize your day trip according to personal preferences. Trust us. We’ve simply skimmed the surface. Forge your own trail through these parts. We’re making reservations today.
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