The Museum opens in The Witherspoon Building

The Magnolia Room played host New Year’s Eve to “A Night To Remember,” the 2021 Fundraiser Finale - when the threat of bad weather postponed the Welcome 2022 and fireworks nearby in downtown Laurens, people attending the gala merely stayed a while past midnight, singing and enjoying fellowship.

PHOTOS: Preserving Our Heritage.

 

 

 

 

 

Mission Statement

The mission for the Laurens County Museum Association is to preserve the history of Laurens County by establishing and operating a museum devoted to acquiring and exhibiting for the public artifacts and items that pertain to Laurens County’s heritage and development.

 

 

 

 

A steady stream of visitors was able to see, some of the first time, a panorama of Laurens County History Sunday at the official opening of The Witherspoon Building.

With renovations starting in 2013 and private fund-raising along with some public money and a federal Covid-response grant, the Laurens County Museum is operating without debt, and going into 2022 it played host to a New Year’s Gala and an official grand opening as the first full week of the year started.

It has one of the most extensive collections anywhere of Native American artifacts. The First Nations Room displays part of the collection of Dr. Robert Crawford, who amassed more than 8,000 items from the Yadkin River valley near Salisbury, N.C., and donated these to the Laurens County Museum.

His daughter, Ginger Crawford Phillips, remembers as a child writing her name in the dust that covered the massive collection of arrowheads. Mr. Crawford began searching and collecting as a boy and never stopped throughout his life. This portion of his collection has been categorized and displayed in museum-fashion, for a fascinating look at the culture of Carolinas’ Native Americans.

It’s just one facet of The Witherspoon Building. The back collection room had been labeled “under construction” for months as museum director Laura Clifford Cook and staff put together the platformed displays that tell some of Laurens County’s rich and colorful history.

In the Tony Harper Exhibit Hall, there is a tribute to the Laurens Glass Plant and its vast array of bottles and glass art objects. There is a replica one-room school house, and diplomas of the Laurensville Female College. This is an artifact from the Gray Court Post Office and a collection of post cards. Laurens County’s role in military conflicts is honored, including some of the photography collection of Sgt. Johnny Graham (Sept. 23, 1944 - June 23, 2021) of the Vietnam Conflict. World War II and Confederate rolls of the dead are displayed, and one learns that during the American Revolution there were 11 battles fought in Laurens County.

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office also has an extensive display in this exhibit hall.

Displays from Rock Bridge Presbyterian Church and Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, and a collection of ladies’ hats, also are available for viewing.

A large “Witherspoon” panel explains, “In 2011, John Donnom Witherspoon III expressed his desire to have the Witherspoon family documents, a large Rococo Revival bedroom suite, a sword belonging to Revolutionary War Brigadier General James Williams, and a South Carolina Ordinance of Secession donated to the Laurens County Museum. It was obvious that the old museum building was too small to display the Witherspoon heirloom furniture. Mr. Witherspoon had a solution; donate a larger building! It has taken many years and considerable work, but the Laurens County Museum Association welcomes you to our new home.”

John Donnom (Don) Witherspoon III was born November 29, 1935, in Winnsboro, South Carolina, and died July 10, 2017, in Georgetown, Texas. The family can trace back to 1670 near Glasgow, Scotland.

The marriage of James Harvey Witherspoon and Phoebe Young Williams in 1874 connected the Witherspoon and Williams families in Laurens County. 

Also within The Witherspoon Building/Laurens County Museum are the Russell Burns Room for small conferences and the upstairs Magnolia Room for events. A poster says that this summer, the Laurens County Museum will play host to “Voices & Votes, Democracy in America,” a Museum on Main Street exhibition.

The Magnolia Room played host New Year’s Eve to “A Night To Remember,” the 2021 Fundraiser Finale - when the threat of bad weather postponed the Welcome 2022 and fireworks nearby in downtown Laurens, people attending the gala merely stayed a while past midnight, singing and enjoying fellowship.

 

NOTE: The Witherspoon Building is at 116 South Public Square in downtown Laurens. Organizers stress that the Laurens County Museum is the history-telling building for ALL of Laurens County. Volunteers staff the museum Monday - Wednesday, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., and they have been open some on Thursdays and Fridays preparing for the big reveal - for information, call 864-681-3678. The Laurens County Museum Association welcomes donations and volunteers.

 

 

 

 

 

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