I was on a quest to visit potential ghost towns in the Pee Dee area of the state. So far I had visited Ella’s Grove and the Palmer School and Cemetery. I still had quite a bit of exploring to do. Next up was the town of Centenary and the community of Eulonia.
The community of Centenary was a bit of a surprise. The post office here was established in 1853 and is still going strong. It’s now in a small mobile office, but there were lots of folks going in and out. On Highway 41-Alt are a couple of now-closed stores.
The residential area of the community consists of farm houses and bungalos, some of which had been under consideration for inclusion on the National Register. An active rail line runs the town, but I only saw one old commercial building and a cotton gin.
This is a far cry from what used to be here, though. A study of country stores across South Carolina indicated six general stores in the town. Also, according to an unpublished 1920 Sanborn map there were several general stores, various feed stores, a bank, and a railroad depot.
There were a couple of buildings that looked like lodges of some sort.
There seemed to be lots of churches for such a small community. There was a large, somewhat modern Baptist church, a smaller brick church on the other side of town, and one with a rather unusual color scheme.
On my map I had several schools marked. I had passed one on the main highway. GNIS has this one listed as Terrell Bay School, named for a nearby geographical feature. The building now serves as a community center with an attached playground.
I tried to find some more information about this school. The School Insurance database at the South Carolina Archives has a school named Centenary School that looks this one, but the windows are now missing and there’s an extra door on the south end. The site actually describes it as the school gym. Even so, I still think it might be the same school.
On the south side of town was a less ambiguous school. This was the location of the former Terrell’s Bay High School. Now abandoned and empty, this was obviously an old Equalization School, so named because they were supposed to provide “separate, but equal” education for black students in an age of segregation. The school is listed on the SC Equalization Schools website.
So, is Centenary a ghost town? If one simply looks at the commercial aspects, it is, but there is still an active community here. I think they might say otherwise.
A couple of miles southwest of Ella’s Grove I had marked the former town of Eulonia. My route took me past farmlands and through wooded areas along 41-Alt. I turned onto Eulonia Road and drove until I reached the railroad and the location I had marked. There was a building next to the railroad that resembled a depot, but was a bit too modern. A sign indicated that it now served as the headquarters for a hunt club.
Apart from that, there was nothing, nada, zilch.
As with Centenary, this wasn’t always the case. The Country Stores study cited earlier indicates that there were four general stores here. Carolana.com lists an active post office from 1879 to 1921, much longer than nearby Ella’s Grove. The School Insurance collection has a very nice brick school building listed for the town.
This location certainly qualifies as a ghost town. I didn’t get out to explore the location as it was very hot and humid. Plus, large logging trucks kept whizzing by.
Centenary Methodist Church
It was getting close to lunch time and I wanted to visit the Marion County Museum. I headed back north along 41-Alt past Ella’s Grove and Centenary. On the way in I’d passed Centenary Methodist Church and made a point to stop.
According to SCIWAY.net, this Greek Revival building was built in 1853. This was also once the site of a Methodist Camp Meeting, similar to Shady Grove, Cypress, St. Paul, and Indian Field in Dorchester County. Now there is just the wood frame church and cemetery.
I strolled through the oldest part of the cemetery, but didn’t linger. I still had lots of targets in my GPS and the day was getting away from me. I had much more to see.