A History of Newberry, South Carolina



Newberry County Court House - Newberry, SC (2007)

The town of Newberry wears its past like a colorful vestment — one that has been altered and restyled for the present.

College graduation robes, textiles from nineteenth century mills, and lace curtains hanging at the windows of antebellum homes are some of the textures that give dimension to this proud community. The town is trimmed with architectural elements that detail its development, beginning with its early settlement in 1745 by Adam Summer. Within the downtown business district, there are several blocks in which every building is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the county seat for Newberry County.

This part of the South Carolina upcountry was settled largely by Scots-Irish, English, and German immigrants in the mid-eighteenth century. Large-scale cotton farming replaced small farms in the nineteenth century, and the coming of the railroad made Newberry a leading cotton market.


Old Newberry County Court House - Newberry, SC (2007)

Changing, expanding civic needs have always inspired new uses for old buildings in Newberry. Today, visitors can see the city's Old Court House, built in 1852, now serving as a community hall. The Gothic-style Opera House, exemplifying Victorian civic architecture, was the center of cultural and civic activity from 1882 until 1930. The Ritz Theater was built in 1936 in the Art Deco style for use as a movie theater. Now, the Newberry Community Players have breathed new life into the facility, gradually restoring the 800-seat building.

Newberry College has been one of the town's most popular points of interest since it was first chartered in 1856. Although the campus' original structure was so badly damaged a few years later by Federal troops during the American Civil War that its remains were eventually torn down, Smeltzer Hall was later constructed on that original foundation. Its strategic location as a railroad depot not only connected turn-of-the-century Newberry with commerce and passenger centers such as Augusta, Charlotte, Greenville, and Columbia, but it was also the link between local mills and their market. Today, several mill villages remain as reminders of that early era.



Newberry, South Carolina

As Newberry Court House, the town was granted a U.S. Post Office on May 27, 1809, and its first Postmaster was Mr. Thomas Pratt. In 1892, the Post Office Department officially changed its name simply to Newberry. It has been in continuous operation ever since inception.



© 2007 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved