Historic Edgefield hotel gifted to preservation group

EDGEFIELD, S.C. — The historic Plantation House hotel on the square in Edgefield has been gifted to Preservation South Carolina, which is looking for a developer to restore it.

 

The preservation group, based in Prosperity, S.C., plans to bring it back as a 33-room hotel with three spaces for retail.

“It will be a game-changer” for the town, said Michael Bedenbaugh, executive director.

The group, formed in 1990, rescues and re-sells properties it acquires through purchase or donation, “preserving buildings and putting them in the hands of new owners,” Bedenbaugh said in a video announcing the hotel’s donation and posted on Facebook and the organization’s website.

The Plantation House was donated by George and Beth Thornton, who owned it for three years through Dixie House LLC.

The Thorntons bought it because “it was just sitting there, kind of languishing,” George Thornton said. They stabilized the building and ultimately decided to donate it to Preservation South Carolina because “they were in a position to move more quickly.”

Developers are already looking at the project, he said.

“The target is to have a developer identified in six months. Build-out is probably a two-year project,” he said.

The current building dates to 1919, but the site’s history stretches back to 1787, when Moses Harris built Edgefield’s first tavern there, according to a plaque on the hotel’s facade.

It has been owned by James Longstreet — father of the Confederate general of the same name — in the 19th century and U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond in the 20th century.

In the antebellum period, it was known as the Planters Hotel before a fire destroyed it in 1892. The site was vacant until 1919, when it was reborn as the Dixie Highway Hotel. It was renamed the Plantation House in the 1960s.

Thornton said the restored hotel would help Edgefield draw weekend visitors who want to learn about the town’s famous pottery, do research in its genealogy library or sharpen their firearms skills at the National Wild Turkey Federation’s shooting center.

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