Abbeville is one of South Carolina’s small towns that seems to have thrived as a small town over the years.
It has been a mill town in the 20th century – and still is (which is somewhat unusual); and enjoys an economic connection to larger Greenwood; a connection to nearby Due West and Erskine College; and an idyllic countryside that has attracted retirees into the greater area (including McCormick / Lake Strom Thurmond).
A Day Out in Abbeville
Why go to Abbeville? Why not go! Abbeville is centered on the best preserved town square in South Carolina. That square serves as a park, a fascinating place of monuments (yes, a Confederate Monument among them) . . . which spill over to the courthouse (not in the square itself), and include monuments to Abbeville’s World War II hero, Thomas Howie, and two monuments from the Equal Justice Initiative memorializing the mistreatment of Black citizens of Abbeville over the years. Wow – now that says something.
You can spend the night at the Belmont Inn and attend a play at the Opera House – both were built in the first decade of the 20th century. Eateries about – headlined by the town’s “ole standby” – the Village Grill. And if you know me, you probably know I
wouldn’t even by talking about Abbeville (great as it is) if it didn’t have a terrific coffee shop! That would be the Main Street Coffee Company, operated by hard-working Mennonites, who know how to bake.
Hidden stories about. Check out the 1920’s mural-style paintings about Abbeville’s past in the Chamber of Commerce. They hang in their original location – the building was a bank who commissioned the art work from Swiss painter, Wilbur Kurtz. Seek out a
memorial (not far from the town square) to Henry McNeal Turner – a Black man born free in South Carolina (with a fascinating back story), who later became Bishop of the A.M.E. Church in America. Call the Abbeville Historical Society to get inside one of two historic house museums in the city – the McGowan-Barksdale-Bundy House.
Pick one Abbeville treasure? That would be the 1860 Trinity Episcopal Church – built in a French Renaissance Revival style . . . lovely and unique. And happily in Phase 4 of a restoration process that has marshalled restoration advocates from across the state.
Check out our Abbeville map below to see the spots listed above. Happy exploring!
If you just click on a dot (on the map) or the name of a place (side of the map or “legend”), you’ll get the website, street address, and telephone number of the place. Remember, quirky hours abound – so give a call before you venture out.