Sumter, SC Walkabout

From the American Revolutionary hero it is named after to modern-day Shaw Air Force Base, Sumter, South Carolina has always in someway or the other had ties to the US military.  The city was originally named Sumterville in honor of General Thomas Sumter, the Revolutionary War hero known as the 'Fighting Gamecock".  Sumter, who was born in Virginia, would settle in South Carolina, serve as a United States Congressman and Senator, and remain in South Carolina until his death in 1832 at age 97.  Sumter is honored with a statue in front of the Sumter County Courthouse.

The Sumter Opera House
One of the oldest and most well known buildings within Sumter is the Sumter Opera House.  Opened in 1895, this four story building has served many purposes during its life span.  It has been an opera house and movie theater, county jail, and the city hall.  Today, the Opera House is home to a 550-seat theater and continues to serve additional purposes as home to various city offices, council chambers, and remaining as City Hall.  The historic structure is not the first opera house to be located at its site.  An earlier opera house was lost to fire in 1892 and replaced by the current building.  The Sumter Opera House was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

Downtown Sumter is home to the Sumter Historic District.  The district consists of over 60 buildings built between 1880 and 1912.  In addition to the Sumter County Courthose, one of the buildings within the district is the Bank of Sumter building.  The Bank of Sumter building was built in 1912 and is of the classic revival style.

The Church of the Holy Comforter - built in 1908.
Sumter is located at the junction of five US Highways (15, 76, 378, 401 and 521).  It is far enough away from Interstate 20, 26 and 95 that you have to get off the well traveled paths to visit.  It is a growing city of over 40,000 residents and has a strong history worth exploring.

All photos taken by post author - August 1, 2009.


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