BARNWELL, S.C. —Windows of empty downtown storefronts have been given new life.
The Barnwell Development Association recently placed giant posters in the windows of the former Book Worm and adjoining vacant storefronts downtown. The posters feature photos by Barnwell resident Melissa Roberts of iconic places around the city, including the courthouse, city hall, Sundial and Kilkenny Park.
“I’m happy I got to be part of that beautification,” said Roberts. “I think they look good.”
Lynn McEwen with the BDA said they wanted to improve the look of downtown while promoting Barnwell. She saw a similar idea elsewhere where empty storefronts were used to promote businesses, but she thought using photos of iconic places would be a good way to promote the city.
“It’s made quite a difference,” she said of numerous compliments she’s received.
If the former Book Worm building is sold, McEwen said they will move the posters to another place.
Roberts started taking photographs several years ago when her oldest daughter, Haley, was in recreational cheerleading. She shared her photos with other parents and her passion soon grew into a hobby and side business.
“I like to capture the beauty and history of the south,” said Roberts of photographing nature and buildings, such as the places featured in the downtown posters.
In addition to promoting Barnwell, Roberts is using her talents as a photographer to help the Barnwell County Family YMCA raise funds to build a pool. That’s why she is donating proceeds from her postcards, prints and photography sessions to the YMCA pool fund.
“I’m going to find a way to help build the pool even if it’s nickels and dimes,” she said.
The YMCA has been a special place to Roberts since she was a child growing up in Texas when her father and stepmother sent her to the summer camp there. “The best part of the day was going swimming,” she said.
Giving other children that same experience is one reason she is working to raise money for a pool at the Barnwell facility.
Roberts and her family were also involved at the YMCA in Hartsville during their time there. They now are members of the Barnwell County Family YMCA where she is a board member.
Postcards, which feature several Barnwell scenes, are available for purchase at several local stores and the YMCA.
For more information or to order prints, call Roberts at (803) 295-2072, email Melissa.Roberts@photographer.net or visit her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PhotosbyMelissaRoberts.