Originally created 12/22/05

History park being upgraded

Three new additions to North Augusta's Living History Park should be completed in the spring.

A sensory garden and two additional buildings are the latest projects at the park, which is the site of events ranging from historical re-enactments to weddings.

"You're never finished with a garden, but (by spring) it should be enough to be really fantastic," said Lynn Thompson, the president of the Olde Towne Preservation Association, which has spearheaded the revitalization of the park.

The North Augusta Lions Club provided the initial $30,000 grant for the sensory garden, which has been a dream of Mrs. Thompson's for at least eight years.

One of the Lions Club's missions is to help the blind, so the garden is in keeping with that, she said.

The garden is away from the main part of the eight-acre park and has a separate entrance. The garden had to be leveled before sidewalks and a brick wall were constructed.

A $23,000 grant from the Aiken County Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department and a $20,000 grant from the South Carolina Heritage Corridor helped fund the project.

Once completed, the garden will have several water features, including a melody stream for boaters.

Designed by Jeff Tilden, the garden will feature a couple of gathering places suitable for small group activities such as storytimes.

The grants will pay for construction costs but will not provide for any of the plants needed in the garden, Mrs. Thompson said. To raise money for the plants, they will be sold as memorials.

Mrs. Thompson said about 200 trees have been planted in North Augusta recognizing individuals.

Two cabins also are being built at the park, one of which will be an educational center. The smaller log cabin is a replica of a Colonial home. A lot of the cabin construction is being done the old-fashioned way, she said, including pulling the bark off logs and splitting them by hand.

One of the main functions of the park is to provide an atmosphere for hands-on learning about the Colonial period, she said.

The preservation society holds a large event each October with dozens of re-enactors from across the country turning the park into a working Colonial village.

This school year, the association joined with teachers in Richmond County to provide history lessons in the park. Fourth through eighth-graders have visited the park, and Mrs. Thompson anticipates the partnership to grow in the future.

She said many teachers visited at the end of summer for an in-service work day and were amazed at the park and what it has to offer.

For the history lessons, re-enactors teach the children about different aspects of Colonial life.

Mrs. Thompson said she's also developing a working relationship with students at Paine College who are learning about the accomplishments of blacks in the Revolutionary War-era South.

The new additions to the Living History Park are not the end of Mrs. Thompson's dreams. She hopes to have a grist mill constructed and a nature trail will be developed soon.

For more information about the park, call 279-7560.

Reach Charmain Z. Brackett at czbrackett@hotmail.com.


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