Museum tours will include tidbits of Aiken history

When Elliott Levy took over as executive director of the Aiken County Historical Museum more than a year ago, he didn't realize the area's rich history.


"Up North, there's a different history. Here, it's richer than you can find anywhere," said Mr. Levy, who wants to spread his enthusiasm about the museum and the area's history through special guided tours.

"On a self-guided tour, people probably get 10 to 15 percent, but if I tell you the story about the home front in Aiken during World War II, or about the Ladies of Aiken, it opens up a whole new dimension," he said.

Guided tours will be held each Thursday and Friday through May 16.

Aiken County Historian Owen Clary will conduct the Thursday tours, and Mr. Levy will be the guide on the Friday tours.

"Owen knows about this area -- so many people out of state don't know about it," he said.

Mr. Levy said he continues to learn about the people of Aiken County and their place in history. He likes to share the anecdotal pieces of history.

"Aiken was the smallest community to have a liberty ship named after it," said Mr. Levy. "It took 18 days to build, and it was women who built it during World War II. That changed the American labor force."

The winter colony of Aiken brought many wealthy and influential people, including members of the Rockefeller family.

The Midland Valley area brought a different kind of crowd. "It was known as Little Chicago because the gangsters from Chicago came," he said.

Mr. Levy said he hopes his stories will captivate audiences and cause them to come back.

"There are so many people who are utilizing this place and seeing the museum isn't some dead building," he said.

The free tours are limited to 25 people and will begin at 10:30 a.m. For more information, call (803) 642-2015.