Browntown on the move

  3110 Johnsonville Hwy, Lake City, SC 29560,  Phone (843) 389-29560

    Effective January 15th, 2015 The Browntown Museum is under new management. Originally a project of the Three Rivers Historical Society, it has been separated as its own entity now, whose sole purpose is the preservation and maintenance of the museum. We are excited about this change!

    We have lots of ideas and events are being planned for the future but the most important thing is getting people involved. We would like to do more "living history" demonstrations of old arts and crafts that show how our forefathers lived.

    One of the first changes we are making is to have the museum open to the public every 2nd Saturday from 10am-4pm. Admission is FREE for the time being!

    Come visit and let us know what you think of the Browntown museum and its many attributes. We welcome suggestions about what we can do to improve the museum or raise money for repairs. Perhaps you would like to get involved and help with projects or events.

Brown-Burroughs house
Browntown Museum is an historical treasure that must be preserved and enhanced. The pearl is the Eli Whitney cotton gin and gin house on their original site, and on the National Historic Register. The rest of the buildings are typical of a mid-nineteenth century farmstead, with many artifacts and memorabilia from a wide range of historic times.

At the moment we are focused on three building projects, which involve some urgency:

Foremost is the need for repairs to save our Gin House, which has become structurally unstable. It is over 150 years old and listed on the National Register of Historical Places. It is an unique asset to the area in which we live and is an irreplaceable part of history.

Gin house
Handmade gears
Handmade gears 2

The gin housed on the  upper floor was driven by a circular mule track at ground level, through these intricately hand carved wooded gears.

Leaning support post
This brace, installed after damage by Hurricane Hugo, is now failing.
Support post rot
A support post for the upper story is leaning
This brace, installed after damage
by Hurricane Hugo, is now failing.

One of the support posts has extensive rot.

We could get a local contractor to shore up the building for around $10,000, but are seeking professional help and advice, in that we want to be historically accurate. This means it will probably cost a great deal more, likely as much as $40 - 50,000.

Our second project is almost as urgent. On the campus is one of the oldest homes in the area. The framing and wood peg joinery are unique. The roof was lifted off this historic home last year by a tornado and it is exposed to the elements.

This home, used later as a tobacco packhouse is the oldest building on the property, at least from the early 1800s, and possibly even from the late 1700s.
The pegged construction is characteristic of very early buildings. No nails were used to make this door.

The tornado took the roof into the woods. Fortunately all the framing is intact and can be salvaged.
Historical preservationist Mike Bedenborough notes some of the unique features of this very old home.

We've been told that it must be re-covered as soon as possible to prevent any further deterioration. A local contractor has volunteered to do this job at a partial donation of services, and we expect to be starting this soon. We anticipate this project will run around $10,000, just to get the building secure. There has been discussion of moving it back to its original site, which would be a good thing for several reasons, but would require additional funds.

Update:  the roof repairs on our oldest building have been completed and the building is closed and protected from damage. We are grateful for help from many sources that enabled this repair. More on this later.

The Epps House, a 1920s-era home with rich archetectural detail as well.

The third project is the completion of the Vernon Epps house which was donated to us, along with his extensive collection of historic memorabilia. This was moved to Browntown from Lake City and is to become our new headquarters, with office space, meeting rooms, display areas, etc. We have already spent about $50,000 on this project and we are about half through. Completion involves insulation, wiring, some re-siding and painting, interior repairs, etc. Strict local building codes have made the project much more costly than expected.

Upgrades in staffing, programs, displays, hours of operation, and cataloguing of artifacts are in the works. This is something we do for our children and grandchildren, that they may remember!

We will be seeking foundation grants and other assistance from government bodies, as well as support from the public. To help with these projects, please mail your contributions to:

Browntown Museum
3110 Johnsonville Hwy.
Lake City, SC 29560