In 1526, Europeans arrived in present-day Georgetown County under the Spanish explorer Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon. The mid-1600s saw English and French settlements appearing along the dark rivers, creating trade with the natives. It wasn’t long until the natives were dominated — in many instances enslaved — and eventually very nearly disappeared from the region. By 1729 the area around the City of Georgetown, which would later become Georgetown County, was already home to a busy seaport. Georgetown, which is South Carolina's third oldest city. Today you can roam in the footsteps of pirates, explore the deep rice and indigo history, and enjoy the 5 different areas that flow through here on their way to the Atlantic.
Built in 1740 (40 years before the Revolutionary War), Hopsewee has been owned by only five families. The house is still a private residence, but guided tours allow you to explore a typical rice plantation dwelling of the early eighteenth century. Hopsewee is also the birthplace and home of Thomas Lynch, Jr., one of four signers of the Declaration of Independence from SC. Also on the grounds are two slave dwellings, which are remarkably well preserved in order to interpret the lives of the African Americans who lived and worked here. The owners of Hopsewee also operate a tearoom on site, where the pimento cheese biscuits are a best seller. History Trivia: By the time of the Civil War, Georgetown County was the largest producer of rice in the country. Hopsewee alone produced 560,000 pounds on 240 acres in 1850.
Located in the heart of Georgetown’s Historic District, the Kaminski House was built about 1769, and contains an outstanding collection of American and English furniture and decorative arts from the 18th and 19th centuries. Featured are several interesting examples of Charleston cabinetmaking of the 1800s. Open to the public since 1973, the Kaminski House Museum is a teaching tool for presenting history. From the promise of the colonial period to the difficulties of Civil War and Reconstruction to the current day, the site serves as a backdrop to the growth and changes in Georgetown and the surrounding areas. There's also Julia's Past & Presents Museum Shop that carries tons of unique local items from
Now a 17,500 acre research reserve, Hobcaw Barony is one of the few undeveloped tracts on the Waccamaw Neck. Bernard Baruch, Wall Street financier and advisor to presidents, purchased the property comprised of 11 former plantations in 1905 for use as a hunting retreat. Belle Baruch eventually bought the property from her father and at her death in 1964 she created a private foundation for college level research. The property is available by guided tours only, where you can choose to explore anything from the amazing wildlife and nature here to the Baruch home, the beautifully preserved Friendfield slave village and many other outlying historic structures. Make sure to start your visit at the Discovery Center that features exhibits on ecology, history and the significant biological research done at Hobcaw.
The Rice Museum offers a 60-minute guided tour through the Old Market Building and Kaminski Hardware buildings. The tour tells the story of the rice culture in Georgetown County, one of the most colorful chapters in American History. Through maps, dioramas, artifacts, videos, and other exhibits, visitors learn about a society based on one agricultural crop. The tour includes the Browns Ferry Vessel, which dates to the early 1700s. It is the oldest vessel of colonial manufacture in the United States and is on the National Register of Historic places. Also included is a video presentation of “The Garden of Gold,” a history of rice culture in Georgetown County, exhibits on the Kaminski Hardware Company, Gullah history, Miss Ruby Forsythe (one of South Carolina’s great educators), and Joseph Hayne Rainey, the first African American elected to the United States Congress. The museum includes a gift shop and the Prevost Gallery, which features rotating exhibits of art and history.
Huntington Beach State Park and the adjacent Brookgreen Gardens were originally all one property owned by renowned 20th century sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington and her husband Archer, a noted scholar on Spanish culture. On the beachfront section of their property, the Huntingtons built Atalaya, now a National Historic Landmark, as their winter home and working studio for Anna. Now you can take a tour of Atalaya or enjoy the famed nature and wildlife of Huntington Beach State Park. Recognized as one of the best birding sites on the East Coast, Huntington Beach State Park is comprised of 2,500 acres that supports a diverse assemblage of flora and fauna. Habitats within the park include sandy beach and dune swale econsystems, intertidal rocky shore (jetty), salt, brackish and freshwater marshes, higher elevation maritime forest communities, hammock island ecosystems and three miles of undeveloped beach. The park has an educational center and offers swimming, fishing, nature programs, a gift shop and camping.
Brookgreen Gardens emerges from the foundations of former rice plantations, a powerful and almost magical setting for one of the most comprehensive collection of American figurative sculpture. Began by renowned sculptress Anna Hyatt Huntington and her husband Archer, Brookgreen today combines history, nature and art like no other place. Experience this for yourself by roaming the gardens, taking a boat ride or walking the many trails that guide you through archaeological digs and interpretive panels that offer a peek into the lives of the plantation owners and enslaved African Americans. There are also multiple sculpture galleries on site as well as an animal forest. Make sure to visit Atalaya, Anna & Archer's home, which is located just down the road at Huntington Beach State Park. History Trivia: The southern-most edge of Brookgreen was once home to Governor Joseph Alson and his wife Theodosia Burr (the only child of Aaron Burr, the Vice President to Jefferson Davis). Their marriage in 1801 was followed by many tragedies including the death of their only son and the disappearance of Theodosia while at sea.
Muskets, marsh and muslin…rice, rivers and revolution. What do these seemingly unrelated subjects have in common? The Georgetown County Museum offers a glimpse into the fascinating connections that intertwine these and many other facets of life that span 300 years of American history lived out in the daily lives of the citizens of Georgetown County. This colonial town has seen it all and this museum keeps the spirit of each era alive with displays and exhibits.
Located in Murrells Inlet, the Seafood Capital of South Carolina, Morse Park Landing serves as a public boat launch, crabbing dock, wild-life viewing area and picnic spot. From here you can see ocean jetties, Drunken Jack Island and Huntington Beach State Park. History Trivia: Morse Park Landing is located on the site of Morse's Oyster Roast, one of Murrells Inlet's first oyster-shucking restaurants.
Much of South Carolina history can be defined by its attachment to and love of the sea. There are countless stories connecting commerce, military, recreation, education and how ships and their crews and builders played a role. The SC Maritime Museum aims to tell these stories to visitors through various exhibits. The museum also hosts two popular events each year, The Burning of the Socks each Spring and the Wooden Boat Show each Fall.