Swan Lake Iris Gardens:Swans glide amid a rainbow of Japanese Irises while the ancient cypress and giant oaks shade the pathways. The 150 acres of gardens feature one of the most intensive plantings of Japanese irises in the United States. The 45-acre lake is the only lake in the world home to all 8 species of swans.
Sumter County Museum:122 North Washington Street- Located in the Williams Brice home, circa 1845. The museum maintains period rooms to display exhibits concerning the early history of Sumter County. Special exhibits are also on display throughout the year. Not to be missed are the formal gardens, children's period room, outbuildings, the 1930s watch repair shop, quaint country store, war memorial room, and vintage clothing and textile galleries. Hours are Tuesday through Friday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday 2:00 to 5:00 pm.
Sumter Opera House:21 North Main Street- Built in 1872 and destroyed by fire in 1892 was a wooden structure which housed a town hall and market place. The present building, listed on the NRHP, was constructed in 1893 in the Richard Romanesque style and features a 100 foot tall four-faced tower with clock. It is cited as one of the most beautiful Opera Houses in South Carolina.
Tomb of General Thomas Sumter and Chapel of Countess Natalie DeLage Sumter:General Sumter came to South Carolina about 1760 and was in the Indian Service on the frontier for several years before settling as a planter in this vicinity. He was famous as the Gamecock General of the Revolution and a distinguished statesman. Near the General's imposing tomb can be found a small brick crypt, built over the grave of Countess Natalie DeLage Sumter, daughter-in-law of General Sumter. It is one of the oldest Catholic Chapels outside of Charleston.
Confederate Monument:North Washington Street. The monument was erected in 1874 and lists those honored for Confederate service from the Old Sumter District.
Church of the Holy Cross:A notable example of Gothic Revival design, cruciform plan, corner towers and pointed arches. The church is uniquely constructed of Pise de Terre (rammed earth). Buried in the church cemetery is Joel Roberts Poinsett, Statesman and botanist, who gave us the beautiful Christmas flower, the Poinsettia, which he brought from Mexico when serving as ambassador there.
Poinsett State Park:Poinsett Park offers fishing, boating, nature programs, a nature center, swimming, a picnic area, cabins, trails, and camping.
Sumter Gallery of Art:421 North Main Street- Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the charming Elizabeth White House, home of Sumter's most renowned artist, is now the Sumter Gallery of Art.
Patriot Hall:Haynesworth Street- Housed in the renovated Edmunds (later Sumter High School) building, Patriot's Hall includes a 1,017 seat auditorium. Local and imported stage and musical performances are offered regularly. It is one of the finest cultural centers in the Southeast.
Historic Hampton Park Neighborhood:A drive or walk through this historic neighborhood reveals private residences which date from the 1840s to present with a variety of architectural styles. On the corners of Hampton Avenue and Church Street stand a large Victorian home (c. 1893) and Temple Sinai which was dedicated in 1913. Along the 100 block of Church Street are Victorian homes, a prairie style house and a mosquito cottage built c. 1850. Calhoun Street boasts of many fine homes built during the early 1900s. On Hampton Avenue are Greek Revival cottages built during the 1840s. Memorial Park creates a beautiful center for the Hampton Park historic neighborhood.
Sources for the above information are The History of Sumter County by Anne King Gregorie, The Sumter County Farmer's Telephone Book, Historical Sketches of Sumter County by Cassie Nicholes, and personal knowledge.
© 1996 - 1997 Cynthia Ridgeway Parker, M.Ed.