Charles Warner Editor
December 28, 2013
UNION — Its participation in Christmas Open House helped the Union County Museum attract more 1,300 visitors during October and November.
Museum Director Ola Jean Kelly reported that in October, 271 guests signed the museum’s register. That number included visitors from communities outside Union County including Clinton, Cowards, Gaffney, Greenville, Greenwood, Lando, Lexington, Moore, Pauline, Rock Hill, Roebuck and Spartanburg.
Also signing the register were visitors from other states including Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
October also saw the museum receive a visitor from overseas. Kelly said the visitor was from the United Kingdom.
In addition to putting their names and where they are from in the register, visitors are also asked to write how they learned about the museum. The answers given by the visitors in October included learning about the museum from their grandfather; by driving by; from the newspaper or radio; at a welcome center; because their parents were originally from Union County; and because they have ancestors buried in the county.
November saw the number of visitors to the museum nearly quadruple to 1,047 who Kelly said either signed the register or were “clicked” as they came in the door. Kelly said the number included 748 guests who visited the museum during Christmas Open House on November 21.
The guests who visited the museum included residents of Aiken, Clemson, Columbia, Gaffney, Newberry, Pauline, Roebuck, Spartanburg and West Columbia. Visitors from outside of South Carolina came from California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.
As for how they learned about the museum, responses included from driving by; from a friend; the Experience Union County brochure; their father; walking in off the street; and from the Internet.
The museum has made extensive use of the Internet to publicize itself to people around the world and to inform them about what it has to offer those interested in the history of Union County.
“Our daily reach on Facebook for October was 10,830 with an ever expanding fan base,” Kelly said. “That base, referred to as ‘likes,’ now stands at 1,207. Many of these choose to share our pictures, events, and comments which expands the number of friends that are not on our page.”
As for November, Kelly said the museum’s daily reach was 5,991 with 1,228 likes.
Visitors to the museum are also asked to write comments about their experience and of those that have none have had anything bad to say about their experience. That continued to be the case in both October and November.
A visitor from North Carolina wrote that it is “really great for Union to have this place.” A visitor from Pennsylvania wrote that their visit had been “very informative.” A student wrote “this place is awesome” while a frequent visitor states they “always like to visit here.”
The comments by November’s visitors included “beautiful preservation, museum quality environment; wonderful, friendly; great; very informative and awesome.”
Meeting Room Use
The museum, which is located at 127 W. Main St., Union, is made up of two floors. On the Main Street floor is the museum proper with its displays of artifacts from throughout Union County’s history.
While it is also has some artifacts on display, the main feature of the basement level is the meeting room which is used by local and area organizations. Meeting there in October were the Catawba Council on Aging, Clemson Club, Leadership Union, Youth Leadership Union, Dow-wat-chers Investment Club, Union Music Club, DAR, and UDC.
In November, the meeting room was again used by the DAR, Union Music Club, Dow-wat-chers Investment Club, Leadership Union, and Youth Leadership Union.
In addition to the meetings, Kelly said there were special tours of the museum held in October for the Leadership Union group, the Youth Leadership Union group, Cub Scouts, a USC Union history class and the Mount Lebanon Baptist Church Seniors.
There were also special tours of the museum in November, some of them including visits to the Cross Keys House.
Kelly said there were three tours of the museum by classes from USC Union while the Girls Scouts of America lead by Kim Petty toured both the museum and the Cross Keys House. She said the entire second grades of Foster Park Elementary and Monarch Elementary schools toured museum
“These last two were before and after the Veteran’s Day Parade and we were happy to open (on a day we’re usually closed) especially to welcome these students, their parents and chaperones,” Kelly said.
Cross Keys House
The museum and the Cross Keys House are both owned by the Union County Historical Society.
In 1865, the Cross Keys House was visited by Confederate President Jefferson Davis, members of his cabinet, and their military escort as they fled south following the fall of the Confederate capital in Richmond, Va. to the Union army.
The historic nature of the plantation has made it a popular tourist attraction and the historical society is in the process of renovating the property to more fully restore its antebellum character while making it more convenient for visitors.
Kelly said there were 97 registered visitors to the house in October from throughout South Carolina as well as from outside the state.
“The grounds have become a favorite place for photographers,” Kelly said. “Two the last four weeks saw several groups photographing children. Some of the graduating high school seniors had their photos taken there while engagement pictures have been shot on the site.”
Kelly pointed out that the number of visitors continues to grow with guided tours on Saturdays.
“Will Sprouse who is usually the Saturday host has done extensive research on the people who lived at the plantation as well as the entourage accompanying President Jefferson Davis,” Kelly said.
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.