I had spent the morning exploring parts of Fairfield County. So far I had visited the ruins of the old Lebanon Presbyterian Church, and I had zig-zagged through several communities. Now I was on to my final destination of the day, Ridgeway.
I had visited Ridgeway for the first time recently after my first visit to the Fairfield County Museum some weeks ago. On that day it was raining, and not ideal for photography. The only thing I really did was drive through and make note of a couple of locations to visit later. It was now later.
I entered town from the opposite direction as last time. It was about 12:45, so a bit later for lunch, but not too late. I found a parking spot next to the Ridgeway Library and right across from the tiny police station.
The folks at the museum in Winnsboro had told me about Mary’s Tea Room in an old general merchantile building. However, another place had caught my eye. The old town hall had been converted into a restaurant called, appropriately, OTH. The architecture with its corner tower caught my eye.
There were a few patrons inside. I had been craving chunky chicken salad on a croissant, and they had just such a thing on their menu. However, I let the waitress talk me into the daily special – a turkey sandwich with brie and bacon on a croissant.
As much as I like brie, I’ve got to remember that it never seems to work well in large quantities on a sandwich.
I finished lunch with creme brulee. How could I not?
Suitable sated, I walked along Main Street. This entire area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Ridgeway Historic District. Most of the storefronts are active, as opposed to the county seat of Winnsboro. Most of these, however, are either antique stores or restaurants. I popped into one and browsed a bit.
On the other side of the street a rough unpainted building was once the Ruff Store. The store had been transformed into a museum. There was an entry fee, and I decided to skip this time.
Just past that was another brick building which I took to be yet another museum or antique store. The window displays would certainly give that indication. It was another store run by the Ruff family.
I went inside and found that it was an old-style hardware store. Much like the C. T. Summer store in Newberry, there was a combination of new, active stock, and older stock that had become antique by virtue of never having been sold.
Places like this can bring on sensory overload. This was an active place of business, and there were several customers keeping the proprietors busy. Not wanting to distract them from paying customers, I snapped a couple of photos and left.
I snapped one more photo of the Murray Gin on the back street behind Ruff’s Hardware before heading back to my car. I’ve got the beginnings of a blog post about that company brewing in the back of my mind. Maybe someday, if I ever get caught up with the rest of my writing.
I circled around to Means Street, heading roughly in the direction of the ruins of the old school. Hopewell Presbyterian caught my eye as an interesting looking church, but they were doing some construction on sidewalks around the church. Too much commotion.
I continued down Means until I reached the last relic of Ridgeway High School. This old doorway has intrigued me ever since I saw the first photo of it posted online. The school was closed in the 1960s when county schools were consolidated at Winnsboro High School. In the early 2000s the school burned, leaving only this door.
Checking back on Google Earth, in 1994 the school was still standing. This old imagery isn’t very clear, but you can see that the school is intact.
By 2005 most of the school was gone, but it looks like the auditorium was still there. You can see the shadow of the doorway in this image.
The lone doorway vaguely reminds me of the Guardian of Forever from the Star Trek Original Series episode “The City on the Edge of Forever.”
Guardian of Forever: I AM THE GUARDIAN OF FOREVER.
Capt. Kirk: Are you machine or being?
Guardian of Forever: I AM BOTH AND NEITHER. I AM MY OWN BEGINNING, MY OWN ENDING.
Spock: [archly] I see no reason for answers to be couched in riddles.
Guardian of Forever: I ANSWER AS SIMPLY AS YOUR LEVEL OF UNDERSTANDING MAKES POSSIBLE.
I had my iPad with me and had downloaded the image of the school from the SC School Insurance Photos collection on the state archives website.
I tried to take a photo from as close to the same vantage point as possible.
When I got back home I combined both images into one composite image showing the present doorway ruins and the ghost of the former school.
I didn’t take a photo of it, but a brick house to the right of the school location once served as the teacherage for the school. It’s now a private residence.
The road that runs in front of the school was named Church Street. I explored it a bit further, searching for the eponymous church. Just out from the town was Saint Stephens Episcopal Church. The architecture struck me as quintessentially Episcopalian. It also looked like there was an interesting cemetery on the grounds. However, as with Hopewell Presbyterian, there seemed to be lots of activity at the church, and I didn’t want to disrupt things. I didn’t even get a good photo. I’ve got a feeling, though, that I’ll be back down this way for another trek.
I circled back past some of the stately old homes in Ridgeway, making my way to my last stop for this particular location. Ruff’s Chapel was one of my discoveries on my previous visit. It was REALLY dumping rain by that time, and I barely snapped a couple of photos before jumping back into my car. This time I planned to spend more time at the church.
The white wood-frame chapel was build in 1870, and was the first Methodist congregation in the town. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places, separately from the general Ridgeway Historic District.
Fence posts made from Winnsboro Blue Granite outline the property and cemetery. The cemetery itself wasn’t that impressive. There were only a few graves. In fact, Find-a-Grave has only 28 interments listed for the church. At the back of the church is a large monument to the Ruff Family, for whom the chapel and several town businesses are named.
The church itself was locked, but I had my GoPro and selfie stick, so I was able to get some interior shots.
Upon leaving Ruff Chapel and Ridgeway I continued east, hoping to check out a couple more spots I had marked. Ridgeway is just on the very tip of the Piedmont. I had crossed from Sand Hills to Piedmont as I drove from Blythwood to Ridgeway, and now I was crossing back into Sand Hills as I headed east.
My last couple of POIs for the trip either turned out to be uninteresting, or non-existant. By this time I was tired, and it was time to head home. Even so, once again Fairfield County turned out to be a fascinating place to explore. Seems I always find something different when I visit. I’ll definitely be back.