Savor the Sights of Hampton County
Places to Go, Things to See
Hampton County is teaming with history. Luckily, much of it has been preserved in the architecture that can be seen throughout the county.
The Hampton County Courthouse was built in 1878 when Hampton became a county. It was named after Governor Wade Hampton.
The cornerstone of the building was laid by none other than Governor Hampton himself!
The courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is located at 1 Elm St W, in Hampton.
The Hampton County Museum building has a very interesting history. The structure was built to house the Hampton County Jail. Museum artifacts include Civil War memorabilia, maps and uniforms. Visitors can also find exhibits from World Wars I and II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
The County Jail was built in 1878 and served the people until 1976. Second floor cells have been preserved and are a distinctive museum attraction for the County Historical Society.
This building is also on the National Register of Historic Places. The Hampton County Museum at the Old Jail is open Thursdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. & 3 – 5 p.m. (803)943-5484
The Hampton Museum and Visitors Center started life as the Bank of Hampton.
This architecturally significant building started life as the Bank of Hampton in 1892. The two-story Italianate influenced brick building was designed by French architect Vincent Fontaine. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The bank closed its doors in 1930, but the upstairs space was rented as a law office until the 1960s. The structure was given to the town in 1987 and it became a museum shortly after. The bank’s original vault and safe with hand painted doors are still intact today.
This museum and visitors center exhibits collections relevant to Hampton County. Visitors will find exhibits of Indian lore, military artifacts, antique medical equipment and Watermelon Festival memorabilia. A children’s room is included for younger visitors. Local artists and craftsmen also display their creations here. Genealogy information for this area is also available. Information on a self-guided walking tour of downtown Hampton can be found inside as well.
The Hampton Museum & Visitor’s Center is located at 15 Elm Street, across from the County Courthouse. Visitors are welcome to browse the displays on any given Thursday or Saturday, from 2 – 5 p.m. and the first Sunday of the month, from 3 – 5 p.m. A trip to the museum and visitors center is free, but donations are accepted.
Built in 1929, the Hampton Colored School was the educational facility for Hampton’s African American children. This structure replaced a dilapidated one-room schoolhouse. The land was purchased by local citizens. Once the acreage was secured, Ervin Johnson, an African American carpenter, constructed the frame building with help of volunteers from his community.
The school served students through the eighth grade. When Hampton Colored High School was built in 1947, this school became its cafeteria. The Hampton County Colored School fell into disrepair after integration. It has since been restored and entered onto the National Register of Historic Places.
The facility has been restored and named to both the South Carolina and the National Register of Historic Places. It is also listed in the Green Book of South Carolina. The museum serves as a repository of Black History in Hampton. The Hampton Colored School can be found at 608 1st St West. The museum is open Wednesdays, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. (803)943-2951
The Estill Nature Walking and Nature Trail is a quarter of a mile long and has learning stations along the path so visitors can learn about nature. The trail is located at 500 Second Street East, behind the Estill Fire Station. (803)625-3243
The Estill Museum is open by appointment by calling (803)368-5158. The building that houses the museum was originally Estill’s first town hall and jail.
The small museum features exhibits on the history of Estill. The museum is located at 44 Third Street, Estill.
The ornate Lawtonville Baptist Church stands proudly on the corner at 196 Fourth Street in Estill. This church stands out from the other buildings of Hampton County. This 1911 structure was designed by renowned Savannah architect Julian DeBruyn Kops.
The elaborate late Gothic Revival church is still in use today. The building has a complex Star of Redemption roof and Star of David symbols on each side. Parts of the building resemble a castle keep.
The stained-glass windows have been beautifully preserved, and best seen from inside. The ceiling is also stunning.
The town of Varnville was the setting for the fictitious town of Greenbow, Alabama for the filming of Forrest Gump. The block-buster movie was filmed all around the Lowcountry in 1994.
Varnville was originally known as “Dixie” in the 1800s. The streets are lined with lovely homes, a restored former depot and a beautiful town gazebo.
Brunson Museum and Visitors Center is housed in the original town hall. This unique museum contains a wonderful collection of artifacts, paintings and other memorabilia documenting the history of the Brunson area. The building was listed in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, as the only octagonal town hall ever built on stilts.
Built 1906, this structure was used as a municipal office and meeting place for the mayor and councilmen of Brunson. It was built over the town’s artesian well to provide protection and shade. Benches were placed around the well to provide a recreational spot for the town’s citizens. While the open arena under the town hall was planned for pleasure, it was also used as the town’s voting place. It was even the scene of one election slaying. Townspeople will tell you that many of cotton crops were planned there. In 1952 the artesian well was covered, and a modern water supply was installed.
The tiny town hall was crowded out by the modern highway and rail systems, so in 1959, it was moved to its current location and the stilts were removed. The town hall continued to serve as the center of town government until 1996. A replica of the original town hall on stilts is positioned beside the museum as a reminder of the building’s original life. Visit the museum at 800 Railroad Avenue in Brunson. Hours of operation are Thursday 2-5 p.m. or by appointment. (803)632-3633
Fans of the movie Forest Gump will recognize Stoney Creek Chapel. Forrest went to church here to pray that he and Lieutenant Dan would find shrimp. It is the only pre-Civil War structure in this area surrounding McPhersonville and Yemassee.
Before the Civil War, many rice-planters from Prince William Parrish build summer homes in McPhersonville due to its higher elevation as an escape from malaria-carrying mosquitoes. In 1832 some of these planters joined to build a summer chapel. Completed in 1833, this chapel was used for seasonal worship. During the war the chapel was used as a hospital and campsite by Union troops.
The chapel is a simple Greek Revival structure with a gabled roof. Central arched doors are flanked by transomed windows. The octagonal steeple was added in 1890. It was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.
Sheldon Chapel Episcopal, formerly of Prince William Parish stands proudly at 25481 Pocotaligo Road. Dated to 1745, the church was dismantled and used to build bridges by Gen. Sherman during the Civil War. It was rebuilt in 1898.
It was first built in 1832, as a summer place of worship by the congregation of Sheldon Church of Prince William’s Parish (now famous as “Old Sheldon” ruins). The Confederate Army used the church as a smallpox clinic.
When Union forces occupied the area, they used the structures strongest timbers to build bridges across the Combahee. Then Sherman’s army destroyed the rest of the structure it in 1865. It was rebuilt in its present modest form in 1898.