Monday, November 10, 2014

Exploring Lancaster and Cheraw

One fine morning during the Good Girls road trip, we stopped by the Olde English District Visitors Center, a place right off the highway. We found scads of brochures touting any and everything you might want to do in the state plus a delightful collection of South Carolina made items, pottery, jewelry, photographs and such. The collection of cookbooks was quite wonderful and we succumbed to Dori Sander's Country Cooking, teased by the chapter on cooking and baking with peaches.

On to Lancaster, South Carolina, known as the Red Rose City, after England's House of Lancaster for whom the flower was a symbol in the War of the Roses. The town was established in 1785 by British settlers who moved south from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Today, you'll find many red rose bushes planted in the downtown district.

Sculptor Bob Doster
We first stopped in to meet a famous resident and sculptor, Bob Doster. Bob is a very friendly, down to earth guy. His Backstreet Studio is housed in a row of formerly derelict buildings with an art-strewn garden out back. The brightly painted interior bursts with stunning paintings, sculpture and other objects d'art.
Doster's Workshop
Doster works with metal, mostly reclaimed metal and his next door workshop is a hodgepodge of scraps, saws, clamps, and soldering irons. Bob is a man with big vision and he produces some monumental works. His pieces are placed all over the South in sculpture gardens, on downtown streets and outside banks. One is a 40-foot high rocket at the Challenger Learning Center in Columbia; another, a depiction of DNA strands in brass and steel, is displayed in a five-story lobby at the University of North Carolina. 

Bob volunteers much of his time teaching children from elementary to college levels. He guides the students through the process of designing and drawing, then creating and installing a project.

We also met Bob's wife, Cherry, a real dynamo. She is also an artist and major advocate for the arts.
Cherry Doster
Cherry directs the Lancaster Council on Arts and she took us for a quick driving tour, pointing out highlights within the city and the Lancaster Wall of Fame. As always we were surprised to learn unusual details about a place. Did you know this old textile town is the place where all Duracell AA batteries in America are made and that a Lancastrian, Charles Duke, walked on the moon? More trivia facts for my brain!

Lancaster Wall of Fame

Soon we were off to sample some barbeque at Pig-n-Vittles in Pageland. The tiny hole in the wall restaurant (in the best sense of the phrase) is the real deal. Great southern food at amazingly low prices cooked by co-owner Logan Ring. Don't miss this location or the award-winning one in Chesterfield.


Following lunch we headed to Cheraw, a town named for the Indian tribe that inhabited the area in the early 1700's.  The town grew as a trading center. In the 1760's it was formally laid out with a gridded street system and later lined with trees. The town green flaunts a collection of 19th century public buildings including the Town Hall, Market Hall, a law office and the Lyceum.
Beautiful Streets in Cheraw

We especially enjoyed the effervescent statue of Dizzy Gillespie, who spent his childhood here. We made a car tour around the streets passing some 50 antebellum and Victorian homes and Gillespie park containing a musical themed fence made by Bob Doster.
Statue of Dizzy Gillespie

Gillespie Park & Fence

 One of Cheraw's treasures is Old St. David's Episcopal Church, 1770, used by both the British and separatists during the Revolutionary War and Confederate and Union soldiers during the Civil War. Soldiers from every American War are buried in the surrounding cemetery. The interior, open by appointment with the Cheraw Visitors Bureau, is simple and elegant. The box pews and pulpit are reconstructions. The steeple was added in 1826. Today, the stately church is home to many civic events and weddings.
Old St. David's Church in Cheraw
Grave Marker in St. David's Cemetery

Interior of St. David's Church

Historically, March, 1865, saw Cheraw become the unwilling host to General William T. Sherman's Union troops. They amazingly left the town buildings and homes alone because they liked them. We did, too, and encourage a visit.

Debi tried out the pulpit.

Don't forget to stop in the River's Edge Cheraw Bakery to taste homemade goodies that actually pass our stringent taste test. Yes, the Good Girls award a thumbs up for the chocolate peanut butter and coconut cream cakes.  The handmade quilts are also worth a look.

Cheraw State Park golf course.
Before returning we drove around Cheraw State Park that contains another hidden gem: an 18-hole championship golf course with a full service pro-shop.   

No comments:

Post a Comment