Ashwood – Bishopville, South Carolina
South Carolina | SC Picture Project | Lee County Photos | Ashwood
The Ashwood community in Lee County was developed in the 1930s as part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. After the stock market crash of 1929, President Roosevelt created a plan to help impoverished Americans, particularly rural Southerners and tenant farmers, become self-sufficient. The Resettlement Administration Projects, part of the New Deal, would convert defunct farmland into workable farms owned by residents and surrounded by a community of support facilities such as schools, barns, and silos.
Parts of rural Lee County qualified for the Resettlement Project, and Ashwood was formed near Bishopville. Ashwood consisted mostly of small, independent farms and included a building that functioned as a school, a gymnasium, and a community gathering place. Lake Ashwood, seen above and at the bottom of this page, was built as part of the agricultural development of the community. Today the 75-acre lake remains a popular fishing spot.
The Ashwood School Gymnasium was built in 1938 and quickly became a place where residents could congregate for plays, concerts, community meetings, and sports after school hours. The school is no longer in operation, though the gymnasium building still serves as a community center for the people of Ashwood.
The Ashwood School Gymnasium are listed in the National Register, which adds the following:
The Ashwood School Gymnasium and Auditorium was built in 1938 to serve Ashwood Plantation, the first and largest of the Resettlement Administration (RA) project tracts in South Carolina. It is significant for the role it has played in politics and government and the social history of the Lee County community, and architecturally as an excellent and remarkably intact example of Resettlement Administration Architecture in South Carolina. It is the most significant and intact manifestation of the Ashwood resettlement project remaining in what was once a vibrant farming community.
The Ashwood community was created by the New Deal resettlement program to convert defunct plantation or farm land into a self-sustaining community of independent farms with educational, agricultural, and commercial support facilities. The building served as the school and community gymnasium for athletics, dances, and community meetings and as an auditorium for dramatic performances and films, in a rural place in the time before television and mass media. The school itself is no longer extant. As a part of the ambitious Ashwood project, the gymnasium/auditorium served an important role in the Resettlement Administration and New Deal’s goals to improve the health and education of the poorer classes, especially that of Southern tenant farmers. The simplified Colonial Revival architecture reflects a style that was popular nationwide in the 1930s, especially in government-sponsored construction, but also the economic situation of the era and the rural Southern character of its surroundings.
We would like to add more information about Ashwood, as well as a picture of the Ashwood School Gymnasium. If you can contribute either, please let us know. Thank you for helping to make the South Carolina Picture Project more complete!
Address: United States Highway 15, Bishopville, SC 29010
Ashwood Add Info and More Photos
The purpose of the South Carolina Picture Project is to celebrate the beauty of the Palmetto State and create a permanent digital repository for our cultural landmarks and natural landscapes. We invite you to add additional pictures (paintings, photos, etc) of Ashwood, and we also invite you to add info, history, stories, and travel tips. Together, we hope to build one of the best and most loved SC resources in the world!