UNION — Whether it was in person or online, the number of people visiting the Union County Museum continued to grow in 2013.
Director Ola Jean Kelly reported that 251 visitors signed the museum’s guest register in December. Kelly said these included residents of South Carolina communities outside the county including Clover, Greenville, Pauline, Prosperity, Spartanburg, and Woodruff. She said visitors from outside South Carolina came from Arizona, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Visitors who sign the guest book are asked not only to write their names and where they are from, but also how they learned about the museum. Kelly said the answers provided by visitors in December included “driving by,” “walk-in,” “friends,” “Facebook,” and “newspaper.”
Those 251 visitors to the museum in December were among the 3,041 who Kelly said signed the guest book in 2013. Kelly said some of those visitors “came from more than 50 other parts of the state while others represented 28 states and the District of Columbia.” The number also included international visitors who Kelly said came from Argentina, Canada, Germany, Mongolia, Paraguay, and the United Kingdom.
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. This continued to be the case in December with visitors describing the museum as “wonderful,” “historical and cool,” “great collection,” and “educational and informative.”
The museum has made extensive use of the Internet to publicize itself, the items it has on display, the services it offers, and Union County itself. As a result, the museum’s presence on the Internet has grown over the course of 2013.
“Our daily total reach on Facebook for December was 18,492 with an ever-expanding fan base which by year’s end stood at 1,383,” Kelly said. “Forty-seven of these, a new record, were added in one day. Many of these fans choose to share our pictures, events and comments which expands the number to those who are not on our page.”
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.
Beneath the Main Street floor is the basement level which is primarily used by local and area organizations and other groups for meetings. In December, Leadership Union and Youth Leadership Union held meetings in the basement which wa also the site of two piano recitals.
Kelly also reported that Dr. Roger Stroup, Peer Reviewer for the Museum Assessment Program, made a follow-up visit to the museum to assess the progress he noted in his initial two-day visit. She said Dr. Stroup discussed at length the needs of the museum and made helpful suggestions which are currently being implemented.
Just before Christmas, the fourth edition of “The Narrative History of Union County South Carolina” by Dr. Allan D. Charles arrived at the museum. Kelly said this caused a great deal of interest in Union County and beyond. Kelly said the first of the pre-paid volumes were mailed to Oregon and Utah while a four-hour book-signing by Dr. Charles at the museum drew a steady stream of persons interested in getting copies of the book and having it signed by the author. She said the book is now available at the museum gift shop and on-line.
Cross Keys House
The museum is owned by the Union County Historical Society which also owns the Cross Keys House.
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 attendance at the house remains high. She said that while construction of the three new buildings included in the restorations has not yet commenced but the permit for the septic system for the exterior bathrooms has been received from DHEC.
In addition, Kelly said “a small gift shop has been set up with a limited number of our most popular books and postcards available for purchase.” She added that visitor numbers to the Cross Keys House for 2013 will be posted in the next monthly report.