Lancaster | Olde English District

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Lancaster (c. 1795; 5.81sq. miles; population: 9,981)

Red Rose Festival, the town's annual celebration


Originally inhabited by the Catawba, Cherokee and Waxhaw Indians, Lancaster's story began in the early 1750s when a vanguard of Scotch-Irish immigrants seeking inexpensive land and religious freedom moved into the area known as the Waxhaws (now northern Lancaster County) and established a settlement. A second colony was soon developed by English (Welsh), German and Scotch-Irish newcomers from Virginia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania in southern Lancaster County. Lancaster's name can be traced from fifteenth-century England, when the War of the Roses was fought between the House of Lancaster and the House of York. Beginning with the first settlement in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and continuing down to the county that was established in South Carolina in 1785, the red rose ( the insignia of the House of Lancaster), remained its emblem.

Robert Mills

Robert Mills Courthouse

The first court was held in the home of John Ingram, south of Heath Springs, but was later moved to Nathan Barr's Tavern. In 1795, a log courthouse was constructed on the corner of Main and Dunlap Streets; a two-story frame courthouse replaced it in 1802, and the town was named Lancasterville. South Carolina native andWashington Monument architect Robert Mills designed the historic Lancaster County Courthouse in 1828. This hall of justice is a National Historic Landmark that continued to fulfill its court responsibilities until August, 2008, when an arson attempt severely damaged its roof, second and third floors. The 181-year-old building is now being restored as closely as possible to its original appearance, possibly as a Lancaster County museum. Next door, a new Courthouse for Lancaster County is now under construction. Robert Mills had been employed earlier to design the Lancaster County Jail in 1825, in use today as government offices.

Walking Tour

Springs House

A walking tour of historic downtown Lancaster would also include theOld Presbyterian Church and Cemetery built in 1862; the home of Colonel Elliott White Springs, textile industrialist, which was built in 1825; and the site of Lancaster Academy, the county's oldest continuous public school, founded in 1799. The entire county abounds with landmarks of historical significance.

More to See

Kilburnie, the Inn at Craig Farm

Much can be learned about Lancaster native and seventh President of the United States, Andrew Jackson at theState Park established in his honor. TheWaxhaw Presbyterian Church and Cemetery, completed in 1755, was the first church in the area. Andrew Jackson's father is buried there, and a statue of his mother is in the graveyard. Services continue at the church today. In southern Lancaster County, the Mt. Carmel A.M.E. Zion Church & Campground, which was established by freed men, has been a camp meeting site since the 1870 s. Kilburnie, which had been the oldest standing residence in the City of Lancaster, has been moved and lovingly restored as an historic bed and breakfast, Kilburnie, the Inn at Craig Farm. It is a luxurious, beautifully maintained Bed and Breakfast with the aura of a small private hotel. This 178 year old antebellum “Grand Dame” was moved in 1999 to 400-acre historic Craig Farm and completely restored to her former Greek revival grandeur.


Bob Doster at workBob Doster's Backstreet Studio is home to internationally recognized stainless steel sculptor Bob Doster. His museums, private collections and in public displays from the corporate collections of Saks Fifth Avenue and Founders Federal Credit Union to the State Art Collection of the SC Arts Commission.

USC Lancaster's Native American Studies Program holds a growing collection of Native American art, particularly the Phillip Wingard Catawba pottery collection and USCL's own collection of Catawba pottery and Native artifacts. The collection may be viewed in the Bradley Building Atrium, USC Lancaster.  USCL is also home of the Catawba Nation's annual Yap Ye Iswa ("Day of the Catawba") Festival, a celebration of Catawba art, music, and dance. One of the largest commercial soaring centers in America---BermudaHigh Soaring School offers beginners and experienced pilots the opportunity to take to the skies almost any day of the year. Carolina Motorsports Park is the only purpose built road racing facility in the Carolinas. Designed by Alan Wilson, the Park is a 2.235 mile, 14-turn road course in the Kershaw area of Lancaster County.

Bermuda High Soaring School

Revolutionary War

Lancaster's most significant battle involvement in the Revolutionary War began with Buford's Massacre, as British Colonel Tarleton devastated Colonel Abraham Buford's retreating forces in 1780. Later, the colonists were avenged when troops under the leadership of General Thomas Sumter defeated the British at the Battle of Hanging Rock. Both Major Robert Crawford and Major William Richard Davie participated in the battle. Andrew Jackson served as an aide to Davie.

Civil War

During the Civil War, several buildings were burned and Lancaster was looted by General William Sherman's soldiers, who stabled their horses in the Old Presbyterian Church. General Kilpatrick's Union troops' five-day rampage of Lancaster County in March 1865 included an attempt to burn down the Courthouse by throwing turpentine bottles onto the roof. It was a futile attempt, but left scars on the courthouse steps while many probate papers burned. Wheeler's Calvary rescued the town from further damages.