I was out and about exploring the Pee Dee region of the state, searching for ghost towns. I’d already found a couple of potentials – Ella’s Grove, Centenary, and Eulonia – and I’d stopped by the Marion County Museum and had lunch on Main Street in Marion. Now it was on to a couple more remote locations, and eventually find my way back home.
I had one day to explore the ghost towns of the Pee Dee region of South Carolina. So far I’d visited several potential locations, including Ella’s Grove, Centenary, and Eulonia. On these trips I always like to stop in at the local museum or historical society to see what additional information they might have. With that goal in mind, I set off for the Marion County Museum in downtown Marion.
Yes, I’m still working on my ghost towns list. However, I have some serious gaps in the places I’ve visited. The eastern part of the state toward Myrtle Beach is uncharted territory to me. I decided that before I move out west and seriously start on this book I needed to make at least one visit to this area.
Charleston has long been known as the “Holy City” because of huge number of historical churches. Since we had some time in the city after our Governor’s School reunion, I wanted to check out a few of these. Specifically, I was looking for some of the signature grave stones that I’ve spotted in historic churches all over the state. Most of these sculptors lived and worked in Charleston, so I expected to find lots of them. I was not disappointed.
Charleston Unitarian Church
Our first stop was sort of spontaneous. On our way back to the College of Charleston from the restaurant where we had our reunion Cathy Ardry suggested a shortcut through the Unitarian Church yard. The passageway connects King Street through to Philips Street, and provides a shady respite from the Charleston Heat.
I had different plans for today. Several of my friends and I were going to go on a photo ramble through Pickens, Anderson, and Oconee Counties. Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperative, so we decided to cancel that trip. I was still in the mood to do some photography, so when the rain let up in the afternoon I grabbed my camera and headed out. I had a project in mind.
I’ve stated it here, and it’s been pointed out many times that there is a church just about on every corner in Greenville. I wanted to explore a few of these. Specifically, I was interested in the older, smaller, out-of-the-way churches. Most of these are tucked away on residential streets. There are so many, that unless one has a connection to the church, most likely one would drive right by without noticing it.
With so many churches in one area, I have to wonder what services must be like. Is there that much diversity that so many are needed? It certainly fragments the church-going population. I think back to McCarter’s tiny congregation, and I know that many of these churches must be struggling to survive. Yet, that small place is a meaningful place of worship for someone. I guess they take the “where ever two or three are gathered” phrase seriously.
Part of this I can understand. There are many, many denominations and sects, and each wants its own place of worship. Then there is the segregation of Greenville’s population. I’m not talking about specifically racial lines, although there are clearly neighborhoods that were historically black or historically white, and each had its own set of churches. Greenville’s population is fractured by mill villages, and each had its own set of churches for each denomination, usually one black and one white. Given that, it’s easier to understand why there are so many in our area.