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Spots, Sights and Sounds

Sumter County Museum celebrates architecture, central midlands history

Sumter County Museum celebrates architecture, central midlands history

by Christian Michael

March 30, 2019


Set facing the large medical complex just outside downtown Sumter, South Carolina, the Sumter County Museum is made of and full of local history. Originally a house built in the late 1800's, then torn down and rebuilt in the early 1900's, the museum is, first, a "home" frozen in time. Pieces original to the home and curated by museum staff fill the living room and main dining room. Beautiful furniture and cabinetry adorn the walls and create the brief illustration of late 19th and early 20th century life for well-to-do South Carolinians.

Off to the side is a beautiful sunroom -- the first of its kind in the area, while a small room next to the stairwell celebrated the area's foremost figure -- Gen. Thomas "Gamecock" Sumter, a Revolutionary war hero after whom is named the University of South Carolina's mascot. (Read more: General Thomas Sumter's Memorial A Tiny Honor To Revolutionary Hero)

One of the staff members greeted me upon entry and gave me a light tour of the main floor -- built on the second storey. The bottom floor is used by the local historical society. The third floor is arranged as exhibits.

The first room to the left celebrated the expansion of Coca-Cola to the central South Carolina region. The next highlighted one African American's fight to bring education to black children in the Sumter area. Her inspiring struggle has a room and exhibit to itself, honoring her and her achievements. The third discussed more of the cultural and economic history by outlining the progress of early settlers toward the modern era, including settlement, wars, slavery and emancipation and later growth.

The hallway's centerpiece is a mockup of the great wing statue found at Swan Lake Iris Gardens (Read more: Sumter's Swan Lake Iris Gardens A Gem Foray Of Flora, Fauna), one I assume was produced in preparation to build the actual statue. Room three bore more early accoutrements of 20th century life. The final room held a memorial for the U.S. military with specific connections to the main units housed at Shaw Air Force Base just outside town.

The staff member was kind enough to draw me a ticket to the nearby Temple Sinai, a monument of local Jewish history and an international memorial to the holocaust and Jewish lifestyle. 

Out behind the main museum -- which I did not see due to a scheduling conflict -- were more exhibits highlighting mid-South Carolinian history. The house and property are well cultivated and welcoming. If you enjoy local, southern history and would like to spend an hour or two diving deeper into Sumter's history, then stop by and say hello!

 

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