Explore African American History in the OED! | Olde English District

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Explore African American History in the OED!

The Olde English District has plenty of great black American historic sites to explore! Before we begin with those, we need to mention South Carolina’s Green Book guide. You can discover more than 300 African American cultural destinations across South Carolina with this free site: www.greenbookofsc.com. It’s a great resource to plan your trips!




Camden is a history lover’s dream come true and African American history is no exception. Start your trip online at https://www.classicallycarolina.com/tours  and download the Camden tours app. You can pick up a map at the Camden/Kershaw County Welcome Center, as well as any personalised recommendations. You’ll want to select the Campbell Street Corridor tour to see highlights of African American architecture, education, religion, entrepreneurship, and examples of day to day life. You can check out the old Masonic Lodge, Mather Academy, Cedars Cemetery, and many others. You can step into the (free admission) African American Cultural Center and the Camden Archives & and Museum for a more immersive learning experience. And don’t forget to eat! Camden has some many great restaurants, but make sure to try L’Julia Maze Diner & Catering at 2615 Broad St or Flavors at 951 Broad St. You’ll be dreaming about your meal for weeks after!

Right next door in Chesterfield County you can visit Dizzy Gilespie’s hometown of Cheraw. Start your trip with a stop at the Southern African-American Heritage Center and learn all about Dizzy, the great American architect Horace King and all the local history before you set out. From Dizzy Gillespie’s statue and home site park to learning about the great engineering skills of Horace King to Second Presbyterian and Pee Dee Union Baptist church, there’s plenty to keep visitors engaged. Cheraw also has a self guide and paced cell phone tour that you can download to explore all the downtown sites. 

Master bridge builder, Horace King


Down the road towards Lancaster County is the town of Chesterfield. Be sure to stop and look at Mt. Tabor United Methodist Church. It’s a beautiful renovated church set on an equally beautiful lot of land. It’s a must to pick up something to eat from Shiloh To Go on 117 East Blvd if you find yourself hungry in Chesterfield after 4:30pm on Thursdays, Fridays, or Saturdays.


On into Lancaster County you can check out the Clinton Chapel AME Zion Church and the Unity Baptist Church (on the National Register of Historic Places) in Kershaw. Continuing up Hwy. 521 make sure to take a look at Lancaster’s Wall of Fame mural at the corner of Main and Dunlap Streets. Then take a walk through the Clinton Cemetery and see where many of the town’s most famous African-American’s were buried. Grab some lunch at Mully's on Hwy 9 by-pass where everyone will will walk away happy.


Across the Catawba River in Chester County the Brainerd Institute on Marquis St in Chester is a must. It was once one of several local education institutions for freed slaves in 1866. Kumler Hall is the only remaining building of this once 18-acre complex and is one the National Register of Historic Places.

Another site to take in is the monument to Burrell Hemphill. Hemphill was a servant in a wealthy local household, when Sherman’s troops came through the area they captured Hemphill and demanded that he tell them where treasures were kept. Hemphill refused to oblige the troop, and Sherman’s troop killed him. The community erected a granite monument in Hemphill’s honor. It’s located at Hopewell ARP Church in Blackstock.



Across the county line is Fairfield County and the beautiful Fortune Springs Park, named for General Lafayette’s body servant during the Revolutionary War: Pompey Fortune. The scenic waterway park can be found at the intersection of Park and High Streets in Winnsboro. Even better to enjoy a cup of tea named after Pompey (Fortune’s Brew) from local tea shop Cornwallis House Tea Company on South Congress St. You can also pick up some homemade donuts at The Donuts Guy just a couple shops down from Cornwallis, or eat some lunch at The Restaurant Next Door (yeah, that’s the name and the location from the donut shop...and they have some great Keto diet selections). 

One county over to the northwest, sits Union County. Rose Hill Plantation State Historic Site (small fee required) has an excellent example of a tenant farmer’s (sharecropper) cabin to explore. 

Union also hosts the former Union County Hospital, the 1st hospital in SC to be headed by a black physician - Dr. Lawrence W. Long. Dr. Long was named “Doctor of the Year” in 1957 by the National Medical Association. The building still stands today and efforts are being made to turn it into the L.W. Long Resource Center in honor of Dr. Long and his legacy.

While in Union, head over to The Plaza (44 North Duncan Bypass) to get some great eats at Cooper’s Grub Hub or Hometown Pizzeria & Grill.




After Union County, head east for York County and ride by Blue Branch Presbyterian Church (one of the oldest African American churches in the region) in Sharon and then Historic Brattonsville in McConnells. At Brattonsville you can see a blick slave cabin and learn about the significance of Watt’s marker. Watt was a servant at the estate and without his help, the Revolutionary War battle “Huck’s Defeat” might have gone a very different (and bad) way. 


Head on into downtown Rock Hill and check and check out the Friendship Nine Lunch Counter at Old Town Bistro. This counter was used at a sit-in for equal rights during the 60s. There’s also a “No Room For Racism” mural in the Friendship 9’s honor just a few blocks south on White Street. You can also see Friendship College on Black Street, Mount Prospect Baptist Church, Friedheim Cemetery and many others. Don’t forget to take in some tasty food at Taylor’s Soulfood Restaurant while you’re in the area or some treats at Sweet Dough in neighboring Fort Mill.




Make sure to download the pdf of African American sites in the Olde English District for many more sites and lots of extra details.