Jasper County Courthouse
As a unit of government, Jasper County is still relatively young. It was the 44th of 46 counties to be formed in South Carolina. Prior to 1912, the county area was a part of Beaufort and Hampton Counties, formed from the old Beaufort District. The massive Jasper County Courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and has been the first and only center of county government since it was built in 1915. Ridgeland, the county seat, lies in the center of the county.
Pratt Memorial Library
Jasper County’s public library in Ridgeland is significant both for what it houses and for its exterior. Inside, the walls of the library are graced with more than 200 portraits and maps relating to lowcountry history. Some 250 rare books tell the history of the area, and archeological artifacts make for fascinating displays. Outside, the building is adorned by a beautiful garden designed by nationally renowned landscape architect Richard K. Webel. It was Mrs. Webel who donated the building to the people of Jasper County in memory of her late husband, Frederic R. Pratt. The building was formerly a part of the Ridgeland Elementary School, built in the 1920’s.
Museum and Chamber of Commerce / Visitors Center
Now located at 403 Russell Street are the Pauline Pratt Webel Museum and the Jasper County Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center. The museum offers a wonderful, eclectic collection of artifacts, prints, and other items documenting the people who have inhabited the lands known as Jasper County. From ancient Indian pottery shards and arrow points, to Civil War memorabilia and a detailed diorama of the bygone rice culture, the museum offers a unique sampling of the history of Jasper County. The friendly staff of the Chamber and Visitors Center will be glad to direct you to lodging, restaurants, and fun-filled vacation activities or to provide relocation information should you decide to call Jasper County your new home.
Ridge Pointe Square
At the heart of Ridgeland’s downtown business district, the intersection of Main Street and Railroad Avenue, is a community park reminiscent of those found in small towns at the turn of the nineteenth century. The park’s gazebo and grounds may be used with permission for gatherings, political forums, weddings, or old-time band concerts.
Church of the Holy Trinity
This stately Episcopal Church was spared on General Sherman’s march through the area simply because it had been used as a headquarters for Federal troops during the Civil War. Built at Grahamville in 1855, the church now has a recently refurbished interior. A more modern parish house nearby simulates the Gothic design of the church building. The church Bible, probably stolen during the Civil War, was returned to Grahamville in 1928. A New York music publisher had discovered it in an attic.
Tomb of Thomas Heyward, Jr.
One of South Carolina’s finest sons, Thomas Heyward, Jr. (1749-1809) was most famous as a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He was a member of the South Carolina Bar, a statesman, a circuit court judge, and a founder and the first president of the Agricultural Society of South Carolina. When he was named a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1776 he was not yet 30 years old. The burial site is across the creek from White Hall Plantation where Heyward lived. A half-mile-long lane of live oaks leads from Highway 462 to the family cemetery where the State of South Carolina erected a monument and bust of Heyward in 1920.
Argent Steam Engine
“Old Number 7” stands as a reminder of the infamous turn-of-the-century railroading days. Restored and preserved at 36 Main Street (Highway 46), next to Hardeeville’s town hall, the locomotive was once a workhorse of the Argent Lumber Company operating in Hardeeville. The steam engine is a 1910 model Porter, which had a top speed of 35 mph empty, or 15 mph fully, loaded.
Lowcountry Visitors Center & Museum
The front room on the ground floor offers visitors a view of a recreated 1900’s plantation house parlor or sitting room, complete with antique furnishings. The adjoining room features display cases from the many museums in the four-county Lowcountry region, and encourages travelers to get off the interstate to see the museums in the surrounding communities. This room also includes displays from Beaufort’s North Street Aquarium, Walterboro’s South Carolina Artisans Center and a special display about the many major motion pictures filmed in the Lowcountry.
Savannah National Wildlife Refuge
Located in lower Jasper County the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge is one of the oldest members of the National Wildlife Refuge System, having been established in 1927. Evidence of the rice industry, which flourished early in South Carolina’s history is found in the refuge with its rice levee remains, foundations of slave quarters, old mill sites and small graveyards. The 22,940 acres of the refuge lie along the Savannah River, protecting numerous kinds of wildlife – ducks of many species, marsh and water birds, Whitetail deer, and Alligators. The tract is well known as one of the outstanding refuges along the Atlantic Flyway, which extends from Canada to the Caribbean. A 4-mile driving tour along the refuge levees is open to the public.
A lonely, cross-shaped monument of stone on the banks of the Savannah River marks the site of Purrysburg, an early Swiss settlement that eventually failed. In 1731, the King of England granted land on the Savannah River to Swiss colonizer Jean Pierre Purry. Hundreds of German speaking and French speaking Swiss colonists arrived with the dream of establishing a silk trade in the new colony. But malaria and other hardships proved fatal to the European colonists, and the settlement died a slow death. Purrysburg lingered on at least until the time of the American Revolution, serving as the first headquarters of the American army under General Benjamin Lincoln. Today, the river landing and the cemetery at Purrysburg are still in use, and several fine, new homes are being built near the site.
Honey Hill Battle Site
In late November of 1864 Union troops were attempting to sabotage the Charleston to Savannah railroad, as they had tried to do since the beginning of the Civil War. On this occasion, Confederate troops numbering under 1000, engaged close to 5000 Union soldiers and killed or wounded about one-fifth of them, according to a Union general. This Confederate victory at Honey Hill was one of the last battles the south could claim in the closing days of the war. Nevertheless, the confederate commander wrote, “ The Victory at Honey Hill released the city of Savannah from an impending danger. Which, had it not been thus averted, would have necessitated its immediate evacuation.”
Tillman Sand Ridge
The highest point between Savannah and Charleston, the sand hills of the Tillman/Ridgeland area of Jasper County provide a unique environmental habitat for the endangered Gopher Tortoise. Prior to the 1880’s, Ridgeland was known as Gopher Hill. The Town sprang up when the Plant Railroad laid tracks through the area. It was the railroad, in fact, which changed the community’s name to Ridgeland, with the opinion that the sound of “Gopher Hill” was not sophisticated enough for a stop on their line. Game trails through the Sand Ridge are accessible to experienced hikers by permission.
Robertville Baptist Church
Black Swamp Baptist Church was organized in 1781, but its church building was burned by Sherman’s troops during the Civil War. About three years later the Black Swamp congregation bought the present-day structure, then a 20-year-old Episcopal Church building, and moved it from Gillisonville. The white frame building has Greek Revival architectural features. Black Swamp Baptist was renamed Robertville Baptist in 1934 to honor the native Robert family, one member of which was the author of Robert’s Rules of Order.
Gillisonville Baptist Church
Gillisonville was the governmental seat of Beaufort District when the church building was completed in 1838. The pulpit, in fact, had once been the judge’s seat. All that has been changed on this simple but beautiful church is the steeple, which was demolished by a Union cannon during the Civil War. Box pews and a slave gallery in the rear remains today. Union troops used the church as a headquarters during the war, and one of the old Communion plates still used today is inscribed: “War of 1861-2-3-4. Feb. 1865 This done by a Yankee soldier.”
In the early 1700’s, Pocotaligo was the chief council town of the Yemassee Indians who gave the settlement its name. The Yemassee War began here in 1715 because of difficulties between the Indians and traders, who used Pocotaligo as a trading post. In later chapters of history, Pocotaligo became an important stage coach stop on the King’s Highway and was visited by President George Washington on his Southern tour in 1791. Today, the “King’s Highway” is U.S. 17, a major north-south route, near to Interstate 95.
Near to historic Pocotaligo, the interchange provides accommodations, campgrounds, outlet stores, restaurants and other services to travelers at the junction of U.S. 17 and 1-95. Point South is the gateway for northbound traffic to Beaufort, Charleston and the Grand Strand.
A peaceful spot just off Interstate 95, this community took its name from the Coosaw Indians who once inhabited it. As a white man’s settlement, Coosawhatchie began to grow in the early 1700’s around the Coosawhatchie River Bridge, which serviced the road from Charleston to Savannah. In 1788, the seat of Beaufort District was moved from Beaufort to Coosawhatchie, and a courthouse was built on the river. A 19th century writing tells us that the settlement had about 100 winter residents in 1812, but by 1840 the county seat had moved elsewhere. General Robert E. Lee was headquartered at Coosawhatchie when he was in command of the Lowcountry just before the Civil War.
Euhaw Baptist Church
Although the existing building at Grahamville is relatively new, the original Euhaw Baptist Church was organized in 1751 as part of the Charles Town Baptist Association. Located on Euhaw Creek, a few miles from the present site, the original building fell into disuse as families began moving to Grahamville, and in 1865 it was destroyed by Union troops. The present structure, built in 1907 has beautiful twin towers on each side of the entrance.
Hardeeville Methodist Church
No sooner had the Hardeeville Methodist Church been dedicated for worship in 1860 than the nation was launched into civil war and the building was put to use as a hospital. The frame church building originally contained a sizeable gallery for use by local slaves. Church members also adhered to the custom of seating men on the right and women on the left.
Blue Heron Nature Trail
Travelers are invited to visit The Blue Heron Nature Trail at 1-95 and SC336, Exit 21. This trail identifies native plant species and offers visitors the option of taking a leisurely walk or extended stroll through the Town of Ridgeland. Blue Heron is a unique opportunity to experience a variety of lowcountry landscapes. Situated between a quaint little town and a rapidly developing interchange, Blue Heron Nature Trail is protected green space that offers a relaxing and educational introduction to the charm and intrigue of lowcountry wetlands and wildlife.
Frampton House Museum
The “Frampton House” property was part of an original King’s Grant to the Frampton family in the 1700’s. In 1865, General Sherman’s troops burned the plantation house and all the farm buildings which stood on this site. In 1868, John Frampton rebuilt the present charming Lowcountry farmhouse and continued to work the land. About 1930, major renovations were done to the old house; indoor plumbing, electrical wiring, and the first thin sheetrock or dry wall was applied, replacing the old lath and plaster walls. Charles Fraser and the Sea Pines Company purchased the house in 1970 and used it as a point of sale center for Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island, while they were developing the Point South interchange as 1-95, Exit 33. More renovations were made to the old structure.
New wiring was installed, as was central heating and air conditioning. However, 1974 brought the recessions and gas rationing. Sea Pines pulled out of Point South and the Frampton House was sold to a private owner once again.
For several years, the old house was rented or vacant, abused, neglected and run down. In January of 1991, the executive director of the Lowcountry Tourism Commission began what would become three years of negotiations with the owner to secure the donation of the old house and four acres of surrounding land just off Interstate 95 at Exit 33.
In December of 1993, Wyman Boozer, a Columbia developer, donated the Frampton House to the Lowcountry Tourism Commission for the creation of the Lowcountry Visitors Center & Museum, thereby assuring the restoration of the old farmhouse and the preservation of the magnificent old oaks framing the building, and the Civil War earthworks in the backyard– erected by General Robert E. Lee’s troops in defense of the Savannah to Charleston railroad, an important supply line for the Confederacy.
Today, thanks to donations from municipal and county governments in the form of “bed tax” grants, contributions from private industry, and other grant sources, major renovations have taken place to bring the building up to codes and to prepare it for resurrection and a new life. The Lowcountry & Resort Islands Tourism Commission has moved its offices into the upstairs of the Frampton House and the ground floor now serves as the Lowcountry Visitors Center & Museum.
The front room on the ground floor offers visitors a view of a recreated 1900s plantation house parlor or sitting room, complete with antique furnishings The adjoining room features display cases from the many museums in the four-county Lowcountry region, and encourages travelers to get off the interstate to see the museums in the surrounding communities. This room also includes displays from Beaufort’s North Street Aquarium, Walterboro’s South Carolina Artisans Center and a special display about the many major motion pictures filmed in the Lowcountry.
We hope that you enjoy your visit to South Carolina and that you will come back to see the additional developments at the Lowcountry Visitors Center & Museum. Please sign our guest book while you are here, and drive carefully when you leave.
Morris Center for Lowcountry Heritage
Located in the heart of downtown Ridgeland in a historic Sinclair Service Station, the Morris Center for Lowcountry Heritage is a learning and exhibition center dedicated to preserving and nurturing the history, culture and spirit of Jasper County and its surrounding counties.
At the Morris Center you’ll find:
- Dynamic Exhibits
- Interactive Learning Opportunities
- Cultural Offerings
- Storytelling and Other Art Forms
Morris Center for Lowcountry Heritage is a non-profit organization funded by the Morris Foundation Trust. Our mission is to cultivate community understanding through education, preservation and celebration of the region’s rich history and culture. It is a facility where a wide diversity of people can gather to explore and learn about the area’s distinctive sense of place.