Georgetown Rice Museum – Georgetown, South Carolina
South Carolina | SC Picture Project | Georgetown County Photos | Georgetown Rice Museum
Downtown Georgetown is beautiful, scenic, and historic – three attributes which are fully reflected in the Rice Museum. Known locally as the Town Clock, the Rice Museum is located in the Old Market Building, which is listed in the National Register. The museum documents the impact rice had on Georgetown and South Carolina through artwork, artifacts, interactive tours, maps, and dioramas.
Part of the Rice Museum tour includes the Maritime Museum Gallery, located in the former Kaminski Hardware Building. It houses the Brown’s Ferry Vessel, the oldest vessel on exhibit in the United States. Also located in the building is the Prevost Gallery and Museum Gift Shop. The Prevost Gallery features rotating exhibits of local art and history.
For over a century rice sustained Georgetown, making this the most grand but also most grievous chapter in its history. Georgetown County was home to some of the largest slave-holding plantations in South Carolina, averaging between 200 and 500 slaves each.
Senegalese, Gambians, and Angolans were captured by hostile tribes and were valued for their rice growing skills. Some believe Angolan slaves gave rise to the word “Gullah” through a shortened version of Angola: “N’Gulla.”
The popular ‘Carolina Gold‘ rice was the lifeblood of Georgetown’s economy for over 100 years. When famous architect and surveyor Robert Mills visited Georgetown in 1826, he commented on how intrinsic rice was to its culture saying: “In Georgetown every thing is fed on rice; horse and cattle eat the straw and bran, fowls, etc. are sustained by the refuse; and man subsists upon the marrow of the grain.”
The Civil War erupted at Fort Sumter in 1861, and changed Georgetown forever. Planters struggled to keep the rice industry alive without a free labor pool, while several major hurricanes devastated Lowcountry fields. To further complicate matters, rice planters in Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, California, and Mississippi began serving up some stiff competition. They benefited from modern harvesting equipment, but coastal South Carolina’s wet, muddy soil could not support the heavy machines. In the face of these obstacles, rice was no longer a viable crop, and Georgetown’s last commercial harvest took place in 1919.
Find out more about South Carolina’s African-American heritage.
You may not use them in any form without written consent.
SCIWAY does not provide contact information for photographers.