Find Something New in the Old 96 District

by Janean Flowe
exterior of downtown Abbeville storefronts

South Carolina’s Old 96 District boasts natural attractions, artisanal tastes, historical sites and more.

In the northwestern region of South Carolina, the five-county Old 96 District — comprising Abbeville, Edgefield, Greenwood, Laurens and McCormick counties — is a worthy destination for nature lovers, antiques pickers, history buffs and those who love simple, artisanal crafts and creations such as homemade soaps and pottery. History lovers revel in the stories of bygone eras, and, from breweries to bakeries, locals are whipping up tastes for everyone. Regardless of whether you’ve been before or not, a new adventure awaits in the Old 96 District.

Revolutionary War reenactors acting out a war scene

Connect with times gone by

Rooted in its Revolutionary War significance, the Old 96 District region oozes with historical importance. The Siege of Ninety Six, in fact, was the South’s first land battle of the Revolutionary War. Visit the Ninety Six National Historic Site and learn about the Star Fort, which still stands today.

Dozens of other historical sites from the Battle of Musgrove Mill State Historic Site in Clinton to smaller markers, like the raid on Pratt’s Mill in Abbeville County. In all, 200 Revolutionary War battles were fought in South Carolina, giving history buffs plenty of reasons to visit.

Part of a more recent history, a mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, was an intellectual leader of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. Visit Dr. Benhamin Mays Hisoric Preservation Site in Greenwood which includes his childhood home. The home now serves as a museum honoring his legacy.

shops in the downtown area of Abbeville, South Carolina

Say cheers to the local tastes

Soak up history of another kind on a tour at Carolina Moon Distillery in Edgefield. Cal Bowie and David Long produce whiskey, moonshine, rum, and, yes, hand sanitizer, in this microdistillery. Ask for a tour to peek behind the scenes and hear some of Edgefield’s moonshine-soaked history in the Prohibition era.

Up the road in Greenwood, Good Times Brewery at The Mill House brews beer in the company of its parent pizzeria, so grab a brick-oven slice and an Unkel Dunkel (the brewery’s German-style dark wheat ale) or, for a lighter taste, opt for the Carolina Sunrise (blonde ale). Produce and meats used at The Mill House are sourced from local farms.

pound cakes on display at Swartzentrubers Bakery

Taste the sweetness at a local bakery

In Abbeville, Daily Bread Bakery whips up handmade goods, all crafted with simple and natural ingredients. Hit up the Gather Bistro and Bakery in Greenwood for hearty soups, sandwiches, cookies and cakes. And pound cakes are the prize at Abbeville’s Swartzentruber’s Bakery (pictured above).

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Experience creative crafts and culture

Aside from culinary crafts, the Old 96 District region offers many galleries and pottery studios for the arts-and-culture crowd. In Greenwood, the visitors’ center doubles as an Arts Center that showcases the talents of local artists and craftspeople. A recent exhibit, Earth Into Art, featured clay works by 10 local members of the Greenwood Area Studio Potters as a preview for an upcoming pottery sale.

For a flair of the dramatic, grab tickets to a show at the Abbeville Opera House, originally opened in 1904, which still hosts live stage productions, comedians, and musicians. The Greenwood Community Theatre offers theatre, musicals, comedies, dramas, classic and Indie films, and concerts. And for an experience perhaps more divine, visit Trinity Episcopal Church in Abbeville. Founded in 1842, and currently in restoration, the structure boasts both impressive stained glass and architecture.

downtown Abbeville, South Carolina

Buy into a new kind of shopping experience

Looking for some fun items to bring back home or spice up your living space? The Old 96 District has you covered. In Abbeville, Southern Succotash stocks antiques, picture frames, plus other trinkets and special finds, while Wolftracks Gallery & Gifts wows with authentic Native American sculptures, jewelry, woven baskets and more.

In Edgefield, visitors can experience shopping in unique ways. August+House shop not only showcases one-of-a-kind gifts, soaps and collectibles the shop also includes some home furnishings. Light your fire over at the Village Blacksmith, where you can watch the firing and molding of a local ironworker. And at The Phoenix Factory’s Old Edgefield Pottery, resident potter Justin Guy crafts his special works straight from the Edgefield clay.

Abbeville, South Carolina, downtown clock

In Greenwood, find some great gifts at Main & Maxwell, where you will find a great collection of art including pottery, beaded jewelry, paintings and stained glass pieces. Fig is a neat shop selling cool accessories, some apparel, luggage and personalized gifts. And, if it’s gifts you seek, hit up one of the oldest gift shops in the state, Thayer’s, which opened in 1916 and still sells special occasion gifs and fine furniture. Treats the kids to a trip to Emerald Farm, where they can pet baby goats, witness the whimsy of live peacocks and wow at many other experiences, like a model train room. Mom and Dad will love the one-of-a-kind antique finds on site.

Abbeville, South Carolina, Town Square

Whatever it is you’re seeking, from walks back in time to arts and cultural experiences and great finds at the many shops, the Old 96 District delivers new experiences, time and again. And, don’t forget the region offers several different options for lodging. Hickory Knob State Resort Park, in McCormick, S.C., is the only resort park in S.C. For those seeking accommodations with lots of southern charm, there are plenty of B&Bs and Inns available.

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