Preservation group restoring historic buildings in Society Hill

Preservation South Carolina has recently bought eight buildings on 15 acres in the Society Hill community of Darlington County. (Preservation South Carolina photo)

Preservation South Carolina has recently bought eight buildings on 15 acres in the Society Hill community of Darlington County, according to Preservation South Carolinas's Executive Director Mike Bedenbaugh.

Bedenbaugh said the properties include two historic stores with old outbuildings and two historic homes, all of them on Main Street. They all date between 1815-1860.

He added his group's intentions are to restore the buildings and make them tourist attractions in the small town. "People are attracted to places that communicate and there are very few places in all of the Pee Dee that communicate a story like these 15 acres that we're standing on right now. The fact of the matter is, Society Hill is really in the center hub. It's the center hub of all these larger communities. From Cheraw, to Bennettsville, Florence , Darlington, Hartsville. We're right in the middle, that's the market place that will be attracted to come here and eat. Hopefully, we put a restaurant here. Find someone to invest in a restaurant store, event space. It's a lot of good things that can come here once we revitalize the history."

You'll find the inside of the old Coker Rogers store is still pretty much intact, with old cash registers and wooden cases. Wooden beams are still durable and intact in the outbuildings.

The wooden columns outside the homes appear to be solid.

Bedenbaugh said the old Coker Rogers store would make the perfect restaurant if the right investor is found. "Get people to stop. Investors to stop. And look and realize wow there is value here. And that's what we're going to communicate and show there is value here."

Bedenbaugh added the Pee Dee Preservation Fund was established by Preservation SC to help buy historic buildings.

According to the Preservation South Carolina website the fund was established, "as a revolving preservation fund to identify, purchase, stabilize, maintain, market and/or sell historic properties in the 9 counties that comprise the Pee Dee: Florence, Darlington, Williamsburg, Georgetown, Horry, Chesterfield, Marlboro, Dillon and Marion. The fund is designed to create incentives for the more rural communities of the Pee Dee River Basin to participate in preservation initiatives."

Bedenbaugh said the buildings will be sold under strict conditions. "We'll sell them with easements so that whoever owns them must adhere to standards on how to restore them. And the easements are purpotuity. So they can never be torn down. They have to maintained to a certain level. And we govern that with our umbrella of protection over the buildings."

Preservation South Carolina is a non-profit organization that formed in 1990. Its mission is to preserve and protect historic properties of South Carolina.

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