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The Claytors Epitomize Small-Town Charm

The Claytors Epitomize Small-Town Charm

When David and Elizabeth Claytor first moved to Chester in 2007, David remembers that many of the commercial buildings on Gadsden Street were empty, several of them boarded up. A recession was hitting many small towns hard, industrial plants had been closing for years, and the trend of revitalization in downtowns wasn’t as strong as it is today. 

“There were very few businesses on Gaston Street, which is our main street,” David says, “but now almost all the buildings are full and there is a lot of activity in general. It’s a thriving downtown now.”

The Olde English District is dotted with such small towns across its seven counties. Where commercial buildings once stood empty, they are now filled with coffee shops, antique stores, boutiques and an array of other quaint endeavors that give the area its wonderful sense of Americana.

Gadsden Street sits just a few blocks from the Inn Upon Moon River Plantation Blues Bed & Breakfast, the quaint guesthouse that David and Elizabeth opened in 2007 after moving to the area from Florida, where they ran a music club. That love of music continues in their current business, where jazz, blues and gospel music take center stage with themed rooms in what is essentially a living blues museum.

The Claytors love being part of the community. They brought with them from Florida an annual MLK Blues Festival that takes place each January. They support Chester’s monthly Live After Five events that bring vendors, food trucks and music downtown. They oversee the nonprofit 2nd Thursday Blues, which helps bring cultural enrichment and music tourism to Chester and surrounding communities. They are proud of the resurrection of George B. Guy Park, which had suffered from years of neglect. David is even a member of the Chester City Council and led the makeover of the park.

When visitors stay at their inn, David and Elizabeth encourage them to explore the small town they are in with some local shopping, breakfast or lunch at Gene’s Restaurant or dinner at Vinny’s Taste of Italy, as examples. But they also encourage exploration of some of the other wonderful small towns in the Olde English District: Camden, Kershaw, Lancaster, Lowrys, Richburg, Rock Hill, Union and many others. Delightful Americana seems to lie just beyond every turn.

For the Claytors, with music always in their hearts, they’ve offered a theme of revitalizing the community one song at a time. Taking the pulse of Chester now compared to 2007, it’s a winning formula.