Sunday, July 6, 2014

Georgetown SC Summary 7/5/14

 All Saints Parish Church

     Just outside town is this All Saints Anglican chapel, which was rebuilt in 1915 in the style of the original church which first held services on this site in 1737.  I wasn't able to get inside the chapel when I visited, but I was able to get a photo through a window of one of the stained glass windows in the sanctuary.  

     In keeping with the traditional style of these churches in the south, the structure is built inside a brick wall which also houses a cemetery.  Many of the old plantation owners are buried here.

    Just across the street is another chapel that this church moved here from a local island.  This church is in good condition and used as a meeting hall today.

     But our story here is reminiscent of the ghost stories of Savannah GA.  Two of the local ghost stories have their roots here.  I met Gavin Davis, who spent much time here in his youth.

     This tombstone simply says "Alice" - no birth date, death date or last name.  As the story goes, Alice was the sister of a wealthy Dr. who move here in 1849.  Alice fell in love with a lumberman who gave her a ring.  Her brother was so angered by this that he demanded she give the ring back.  Instead, she hid it on a ribbon she wore around her neck.  Her brother sent her off to boarding school in hopes that sending her off would resolve the situation.  But, alas, shortly after she was sent off she contracted malaria and died.  When her body was returned to Georgetown, her brother discovered the ring around her neck and in a rage threw it out into the swamp.  It is said that her ghost can be seen wandering the cemetery and the swamp for the ring.  It is also said that if you wear a ring on a chain or a ribbon around your neck, and walk backward around her grave 13 times her ghost will try to pull the ring from your neck. 

    So, Gavin, at 9 years old came with his mother to the cemetery one hot summer day and decided to prove the whole thing was poppycock.  He proceeded to walk backward around the grave several times, but in the midst of it the winds from an incoming storm picked up and the church shutters started swinging back and forth and banging on the walls of the church.  "You've done it - you've awakened Alice !!"  his mother yelled.  Well, needless to say that left quite the impression on Gavin at the time.  Today when he visits town he can come by the old cemetery and laugh about it, but back then it was a harrowing event.

     The most enduring ghost in this area though is the Gray Man.  He is the ghost of a young man that took a short cut to see his sweetheart - but as he rode through the marsh he hit quicksand and died.

     Ever since, he warns local residents of hurricanes.  Dating from the 1850's clear up to the recent storm in 1989, local residents claim to have been approached by him warning of the impending storm.

     All Saints was actually a "chapel of ease" for the main Anglican Church here - the Prince George Parish Church.  ("Prince" George subsequently became "King" George, but the church retained the old name.)  This congregation was established in 1721, and this chapel in downtown Georgetown was built in 1737. It underwent some upgrades in 1824, but remains much the same as it was almost 300 years ago.

     Olga Abbott is the church's docent, as well as being a big fan of history.  The church is open to the public 7 days a week with a docent always there to answer questions and share history.

     Back in the day, you had to buy a pew box for your family.  The closer to the front, the more expensive the pews.  The style of the church closely matches that of the old Episcopal Church in Beaufort, but this retains the seating arrangement of the olden days.

      And as always, you can count on some amazing stained glass windows and a larger than life theater organ.

     Of late, there has been a difference of opinion within this church (on a national level) about various policies.  So the church has recently split, and these two churches that were "sister" churches for so long now belong to different "religions."

     The neat thing with this cemetery is that the resurrection fern, which usually only grows on the branches of the live oaks, grows along the tops of the brick wall.  It looks dead until rains come, then it "resurrects" and takes on the appearance seen above.

      Also worth seeing is the Kaminski house, which is now a downtown museum.  The amazing thing about this house is that all of the old furniture has remained intact.  The home's last owners, Harold and Julia Kaminski left the entire house and all of its contents to the city of Georgetown.  (They died childless.)

     This house was built in 1769, so you can imagine there are lots of great stories about it.  The one I will share though is about the last owner.  Harold Kaminski was the radio officer on duty in Hawaii on the morning of December 7th, 1941.  That is when the Japanese attacked, and he related stories of that event.

      Right next door is the Robert Stewart house - so this museum is really two for the price of one.

     Kim Leatherwood, who works with the museum in promotions spent the better part of an hour talking with me about where the homes had come from, what challenges they face and where they are trying to get to.

     I wasn't able to get permission to photograph inside the Kaminski House on such short notice, but I can tell you that the antiques are pretty amazing.  After all, how often is a house AND its contents donated at the same time?

     One of the fireplaces in the Stewart House is shown below.

     And both houses overlook the river.  Special events can be booked here - such as weddings and other types of parties.  It really would make a great venue for many different things.  Just last night there was a band here and 600 folks attended the concert.

     Also of note is the old Indigo Society building.  In the 1700's this emerged as a social club for the local planters.  By the mid 1700's it was sponsoring schooling for the towns poor and was instrumental in starting a public library.

     There are many other historic structures here - in fact 63 are listed in the National Historic Register.

     Although the history is great, for me the story of Georgetown is really all of the lands surrounding it that have been preserved.  There are miles and miles of trails, and hundreds of miles of rivers and creeks to explore.  

     Empty beaches grace many areas of the rivers and the outlying islands.

     If you like fishing, it is a fresh water and salt water fishing paradise.

     Hotels are the cheapest I have seen, starting out at under $50 per night.  There are several bed and breakfasts that look nice as well.

     With no major highway coming close to the town, traffic remains the slower pace of the rural Carolinas.  I have to say that all things considered, Georgetown is one of the best places to go if you want to get away to a place that has a much slower pace yet still has a wide variety of things to do.

     Today's parting shot is of the baptismal at Prince George Parish Church downtown.  The baptismal has some damage that came from the civil war era.  It seems that Union Soldiers stole it along with a lot of other icons from the church.  Years later, someone observed it being used on a local farm as a pestle to grind rice in.  It was returned to the church where it remains to this day.

Have a great Sunday all !!

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