Author Archive: Tom Taylor

Pumpkintown Area Schools

Oolenoy School

Oolenoy Community House

I had just finished up with the Nature Conservancy Hawk Watch up on Caesers Head, but I still had some time to explore. I had several locations marked from the Greenville Survey, as well as some others I wanted to check out. I found more than schools. I found a story of destruction, determination, and rebuilding.

My first, and most productive stop was Oolenoy Community House, located in the old Oolenoy School. This school is the classic early 20th century design with a central bell tower. At first glance the design looks just like the old Wolf Creek School just outside of Pickens.

Oolenoy School-011 (more…)

Hawk Watch on Caesars Head


Hawk Watch-008

Hawk migrations take place from early September through November each year. This past Wednesday the Nature Conservancy along with Caesers Head State Park were sponsoring a lunch and learn, followed by a hawk watch at the overlook. Being a loyal Nature Conservancy supporter, I decided to attend.

It was an absolutely beautiful day. It was also brisk – temperatures had dropped to their lowest levels yet. I put the roof back on the Subaru (or as far back as it would go on a sun roof as opposed to a convertible) and headed up the mountain. (more…)

Tigerville Revisited


Tigerville School-001

After our excursion last week, Mark Elbrecht sent me an excellent resource with information about some of the sites we visited. The State Historic Preservation Office has released a new archeology survey of Greenville County (PDF).

Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 10.48.52 AM.png (more…)

September Edisto with Lowcountry Unfiltered


LCU Edisto Messervy to Long Creek-9

Second Saturday of the month means a paddling trip with Lowcountry Unfiltered…except that this was a third Saturday, and the group was more Midlands and Upcountry than Lowcountry. Even so, our band of adventurers once again headed down to the Edisto River. This trip we added another yet-unpaddled stretch of the river to our resume’s. We would be doing the stretch from Messervy Landing to Long Creek Landing.

Messervy to Long Creek Edisto

I swung through Simpsonville and picked up Alan, and we headed on our way. Our first stop was breakfast at Bill and Fran’s in Newberry, then continued on down to Messervy Landing. Soon we were joined by Jerry, Marc, and Matt, bringing our number to five.

LCU Edisto Messervy to Long Creek-92 (more…)

Scotch Irish Ingenuity and Creepy Doll Heads


Creepy Baby Doll Head at ShinolaI’ve been trying to diet.  Really, I have.  I managed to eat a light lunch on Monday, but then Tuesday Glynda called and wanted me to meet her at Bacon Brothers.  Wednesday Mark and I had lunch at The Junction, a buffet in Gowansville.  I planned to go light for lunch on Thursday.  That is, until I got a call from my brother, Stephen.

Stephen had made two reservations to attend a lunch and learn meeting at the Upcountry History Museum, and wanted to know if I could join him.  Of course!  The program was supposed to be about the “Scotch Irish” [sic] in the Upstate, and since that’s our genealogical background, Stephen thought it would be interesting.

We arrived at the appointed time and made our way up to the meeting room.  The place was already packed, so we grabbed our box lunches of Chick-Fil-A and managed to find two seats toward the back.

Right away we noticed something amiss.  The place was filled with young kids who should have been in school.  They looked like they were either second or third grade.  From my many years as an elementary teacher I’m pretty good about placing them.  The question was, what were they doing here?  Were they part of a homeschool coop?  Given the number of them, we began to worry a bit.

Upstate Museum Lecture (more…)

Tigerville Ramble


Cool Springs Primitive Baptist Church

Fellow explorer Mark said he was up for another adventure. He had a list of places marked along Highway 414 up toward Tigerville, some old houses, historic churches, and even a couple of old schools. He also wanted to check out the old T. P. Wood store in Tigerville to see how renovations were going. So, on Wednesday we set out and knocked quite a few of those places off the list.

Our first stop was Cool Springs Primitive Baptist Church. Just the name makes it sound intriguing. The church is located on Cool Springs Road just north of Highway 414. There is a modern(ish) building that was built in 1956…

Cool Springs Primitive Baptist Church

…but more interesting is the original church. This weather-board structure sits perched above the road, and dates back to 1840.

Cool Springs Primitive Baptist Church-001

The old church is not on the National Register of Historic Places, but has been deemed eligible by a recent archeology survey of the county (PDF). The structure is now just used for storage. We could see bicycles and lawn mowers through the windows. I didn’t attempt to get an interior shot. (more…)

Pigging Out at Bacon Bros



It’s been awhile since I’ve done a restaurant review. It’s a bit more difficult when you’re not eating out as much, and you’re trying to watch your weight. Even so, today Glynda wanted some company for lunch, so we decided to try a new place, Bacon Bros. Public House.

I’ve heard good things about Bacon Bros. Several of my friends have visited and said that the food is excellent. The stories were that all of the recipes have bacon in them. Well…I guess that’s technically true. After all, anything with bacon must be excellent, right? We were here to get to the root of those stories.


Bacon Bros. is a locally owned restaurant, and opened last year. According to the restaurant’s website…

Serial entrepreneurs Eric Bergelson and Mike Porter, along with Chef Anthony Gray and Jason Callaway, are the Bacon Brothers. Porter and Bergelson decided to branch into the restaurant business and teamed-up with Gray and Callaway in 2012. In one of their early meetings, Callaway brought bacon he had fried that morning at home and transported it in a mason jar that he placed in the center of the table where they were gathered. The four men started snacking and talking about their love of bacon. As the pieces quickly disappeared, they realized they had a concept and name for their new restaurant.

The restaurant is located on Pelham Road, near “restaurant row,” in the same area as EarthFare.


I usually take “public house” to mean a bar, and I think an English pub is the decor for which they were striving. Everything has a rustic look to it. There are picnic tables outside, and exposed rustic wood inside.


The place was filling up for lunch, so Glynda went ahead and got a table before I got there. We were seated next a large table of Verizon employees out for lunch. It was loud and conversation was difficult.

Behind the restaurant was a deck around with outside seating. To get to it, one must walk past a curing room, with all sorts of pig products.



I guess the best way to describe the cuisine as Southern classics dowsed with a heavy dose of “chef-iness.” Contrary to what I had heard, not everything has bacon in it. However, almost all of the menu items have some sort of pork product. Selections start with a “Meat Board.” This is a collection of deli and other meats sold by the ounce, including salami, pancetta, liverwurst, prosciutto, and head cheese.

Appetizers are listed as “snacks and include oddities such as boiled peanuts, fried pickles, and tater tots. These run from $5 to $8 for most.

There are three salads, but why would anyone bother with salads here?

A selection of sandwiches run from $8 to $12, including a Reuben, pulled pork, a burger, and a BET – Bacon, Egg, and Tomato with a duck egg.

The entrees include crackling pork, shrimp and grits, and fried catfish. There is also a selection of barbeque pork options. These run from $14 to $22. However, there’s a catch…

Unless specified, I don’t think the entrees come with any sides. Those will set you back another $4-$5 per side. Looks like this could get VERY pricey very fast.


Oh, these pesky diets and limited retirement budgets…I would have loved to have loaded up with some of the signature dishes, but decided to go with a sandwich, instead. Glynda and I both got the Reuben.


It included the requirements – pastrami on rye with sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing. A helping of red cabbage was included on the sandwich for a bit more color. Glynda and I both thought the meat on the sandwich was fantastic. Stands to reason for a place known for its meats. Overall, though, the sandwich was lacking. It was very dry, and could have benefited from a tad more sauerkraut or dressing.

We also ordered a side of fries to split. This came out as a whopping serving in a bowl that we placed between us.


The fries were OK, but got very soggy toward the bottom of the bowl. The fries were served up with some of BBPH’s own ketchup. This had a hint of heat and vinegar to it, and I found it to my liking. I’ve been known to mix ketchup and balsamic vinegar, when available. The waiter said that it also had some chipotle and cayenne in it, which explains the heat.


About the best way to describe it was lots of flash, but little substance. For example, the simple delivery of a straw for our drinks involved some sort of weird napkin origami where the waiter never touches the straw. Right before our meals arrived, knives were delivered to us in a box, similar to those containing dueling pistols. We used these precisely once – to cut our sandwiches in half.

Where things mattered, though, service was a bit lacking. It was slow overall. Not terrible, but just enough to get to the point where I wondered, “Where is our waiter?” one too many times. Granted, it was a busy lunch service, but the place wasn’t packed. There seemed to be plenty of wait staff on hand, including one giant with a long beard.


While the novelty of a bacon oriented place has tons of appeal, I was not impressed. The sandwich could have been much better, and service was so-so. Add to that very high prices, and this is a place I don’t think I’ll visit very often. However, in fairness to Bacon Brothers, I didn’t like The Lazy Goat the first time I tried it, and now it’s one of our favorites. I would like to come back and try one of the entrees at a leisurely dinner and see if my opinion changes.

The Mystery of the School Car


Pleasant Grove

As I was browsing through the collection of photographs of old schools from the South Carolina School Insurance Collection, I noticed something odd. The same car started showing up in photo after photo.

Car Collage

You don’t notice it while viewing the images one by one on the archives website, but when you look at them en masse, it’s one of the things that jumps out.

Obviously I assumed that it belonged to the agent who was responsible for inspecting and photographing the schools. Stands to reason. I can see it going something like this…He (and I’m most definitely sure it was a “he” given the time period) would park the car in front of the school, do his inspection, then step out front for a photo. Including the car in the photo also proved that he was there, and that he had been the one to take the photo. (more…)

Bell Tower Evolution

Old Shiloh School B&W

Old Shiloh School in Anderson County

My encounter with two old schools with similar architecture made me want to take a closer look at historic rural school architecture in general. Probably the best resource for this in our state is the South Carolina School Insurance Photograph collection housed online at the South Carolina State Archives website.

The early 1900s saw a flurry of school construction. Schools were consolidated, and new rural schools were constructed for both Black and White populations under the Rosenwald grant program. In 1919 the state created the Sinking Fund Commission to provide insurance coverage for public schools and other public buildings.

In 1935 the office of Special Agent was established for the Commission. The duty of the Special Agent was to inspect the state’s property holdings. The result of which was the creation of a collection of photographs of schools, taken from 1935 until 1952, which the Sinking Fund was absorbed into the state’s Budget and Control Board. (more…)

School Multiplicity

Algary Mount Olive 2

Top – Algary School in Shoals Junction, Bottom – Mount Olive School in Laurens County

Glynda and I were on our way back from Prosperity on Wednesday and decided to take the scenic route through the country. Our route retraced part of my trek when I paddled Boyds Mill Pond last week (the dry part, not the pond.) As we were driving on Indian Mound Road I spotted a building, and made a U-turn to check it out. The Mount Olive Community Center has exactly the same design as Algary School in Shoals Junction. It had to be an old school now repurposed as a community center.

Mount Olive School

…and here’s the Algary School for comparison.

Algary School

I love it when I find another matching old school. It’s kind of like historical Concentration (without the turning over cards bit.) It makes, sense, though. Using a consistent floor plan and design saves money We do it today – I helped with the construction of three schools in Spartanburg Five that use the same floor plan, and I know of many in Greenville. The question I had was whether or not this particular design had any historical significance. (more…)

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