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Anderson County Museum Turns 37 Telling the Stories of Anderson County and South Carolina since 1983. Celebrating 37 years on Friday, October 23, 2020.

Follow the founding of our museum.

1978: The museum’s “Founding Father” Fred Whitten, while president of the Anderson County Historical Society in 1978, received permission from the County to arrange some local history displays in the basement of the historic County Courthouse. Sustained by a handful of devoted volunteers and nurtured by our local historical organizations, the small museum grew slowly.

October 7, 1982: Representatives of local historical organizations, including the Anderson County Historical Society, Anderson Heritage, Inc., and the Pendleton District Historical and Recreational Commission, went before Council to ask that space in the courthouse be officially authorized for use as a small county museum.

October, 1983: The first item accessioned was the Glenn Street School cornerstone, donated by Mr. Ellis Ball.

October 23, 1983: The museum’s Grand Opening consisted of exhibits featuring items donated by Whitten, Wayne Broadwell, and the three founding historical organizations. It was well attended and there was excitement at the possibilities now that a “museum presence” had finally been established.

January, 1984: Visitation records began to be kept.

March 20, 1984: County Council made the museum a division of the Pendleton District Commission and appointed the first Anderson County Museum Advisory Committee to oversee its operation and growth. Carl Compton was the first committee chairman.

Spring, 1984: Donna Roper was assigned to be Museum Curator under Hurley Badders.

1991: With the construction of a new county courthouse, the old courthouse building was closed for much-needed preservation and renovation work. Collections were stored and the museum went into “hibernation” from 1991 until 1994.

January, 1992: The Advisory Committee conducted a re-organizational meeting after which the Anderson County Chapter of the S.C. Genealogical Society, under the presidency of Jim Harper, provided a small on-site genealogical library. In addition to the museum’s books and files from the Historical Society, this would constitute the first “Reading Room” for visiting researchers.

March 14, 1994: The museum reopened in the renovated courthouse. It was located in a third floor suite of large open rooms just outside a new elevator.

August, 1996: The Anderson County Council voted to designate the recently vacated County Home building as the site for a museum.

June 4, 1997: At a meeting of the Advisory Committee, County Administrator Joey Preston proposed that they accept the county library building for use as a museum, a most suitable and desirable downtown site.

October 5, 1998: Paula Reel hired as first Director of the Museum.

January, 2001: A fundraising campaign was started for the restoration of the Robert Anderson Fountain. The fountain had been in storage for thirteen years with no conservation care. The Independent Mail helped in the fundraising effort and more than $45,700 was raised.

November 1, 2002: The Robert Anderson Memorial Fountain restoration project was completed and the fountain re-dedicated.

April 15, 2003: Turbines and Textiles Exhibit, South Carolina Heritage Corridor Exhibit, and Buena Vista Park Exhibit were installed before the grand opening of the museum.

May 18, 2003: The Grand Opening of our present facility occurred on International Museum Day.

September, 2003: Alison Hinman hired as second curator.

October, 2003: Let us Worship Church Exhibit opened.

2003: The Anderson County Hall of Fame was established.

November 15, 2003: Keep the Home Fires Burning Military Exhibit opened.

2004: Original Museum Store opened.

March 2005: The restoration and conservation of the McGee Harness Shop began with the expert guidance of Mr. Doug Kidd and Mr. Rick Brighwell of Border States Leather.

May 15, 2005: King of Mirth Exhibit opened. The restored McGee Harness Shop was open to the public.

August 24, 2007: Exhibit By the Book: the History of Education in Anderson County was opened.

January, 2008: Beverly Childs hired as Museum Executive Director to lead the museum in a new direction.

May 3, 2008: Museum Gallery named after Fred Whitten and becomes the Fred Whitten Gallery during the Hall of Fame celebration.

May 23, 2008: Orr Monument was moved from Orr Mill to the Anderson County Museum with the help of A. B. Roberts Construction Company.

May 26, 2008: Sally Rose Miniature House Exhibit opened.

May 7, 2009: Pendleton District Historical, Recreational and Tourism Commission gifted to the Anderson County Museum Miss Frierson’s One Room School House.

June 2009: Anderson Heritage provided funding to move the One Room School House from the Fair Grounds to the upper parking lot of the Museum.

October 23, 2009: Opened Trade Street Exhibit. The Anderson County Museum published our first picture book Trade Street written by Director Beverly Childs and museum volunteer Carl Compton.

June 1, 2010: Opened Anderson Baseball Hall of Fame Exhibit.

October 2010: Director Beverly Childs and Friends of the Anderson County Museum republished the book Anderson County, South Carolina – The Things that Made it Happen.

May 1, 2012: Desolate Pride Civil War Sesquicentennial Exhibit opened.

April 18, 2013 : Opened Routes of History Phase I

October 2013 : Museum fundraised and published A Necessary War Anderson County Residents Remember World War II book written by Kathryn Smith.

February, 2014 : Linda Loparo, ACM Educator and Volunteer Coordinator, held the first meeting of the monthly American Girl Program at the museum.

April 8, 2014 : Opened Routes of History Phase II

September 5, 2014 : Friends Board Museum Store was relocated to a new location right inside the front door of the Museum. Don Chapman of Chapman Design Group, Inc. donated the design and project management for the new store.

October 14, 2014: The Reading and Research Room was renamed after our first ACM Curator Donna Roper to the Roper Research Room.

June 29, 2015: Dustin Norris hired as the third Curator and Registrar.

July 2015: A portion of the ACM Collection catalogued in Past Perfect was put online for researchers to have access to.

November 20, 2015: Opened Routes of History Phase III and launched the book Anderson Memories: the Early Years in partnership with the Independent Mail.

2016: Nate Thomason drew the first ACM mascot for the children’s programs, Whitner the Lightning Bug

Sept. 2016 – March, 2017: The McGee Brothers harness shop in the upper parking lot was outfitted with custom cases and a barrier to improve visitors’ experiences on tours and enable more controlled self-guidance in the shop.

April, 2017: The first ACM traveling exhibit was developed: William Whitner: The Spark behind the Electric City.

August – December, 2017: The WWI Trailmobile Field Kitchen was sympathetically restored with plans to become a centerpiece in the upcoming exhibit, Andersonians in War.

Oct. 31-Nov. 4, 2017: The ACM had its highest weekly total of visitors in its history to date. 538 for Monster Mash and 2,026 for Mistletoe Market, totaling 2,564.

2018: A family was created around the Whitner mascot by Miranda Hayes. Wife, Whitney, children, Willie and Willa, and dog Willett.

March, 2018: The ACM developed a redesigned traveling exhibit called Delayed Honor: The Life and Legacy of Freddie Stowers which focuses on the beloved Medal of Honor recipient.

April, 2018: The Gala was moved to April and hosted for the first time at Evergreen Plantation.

May 18, 2018: The Miss Annie Lee, Civil War cannon from the town of Williamston makes its first annual trip to the museum as part of an agreement with Williamston and the Citadel.

October 16, 2018: The Anderson County Museum celebrated the 15th anniversary of the Anderson County Hall of Fame.

February 5th, 2019: The ACM Store was reopened and rebranded as Whitner’s Mercantile.