I usually enjoy covering unique locations for travel that I have planned out and experienced Recently I was traveling from Statesboro to the mountains. From Augusta to I-26 the route takes a short bypass around Newberry, SC. This is where I pulled over to get gas and proceeded to start asking for a jump because my car wouldn’t start. The kind gentleman that helped me advised that things weren’t good and it wasn’t safe to get on the interstate. I thanked him, and being after 5pm, all service businesses were closed. I found an O’Reilly Auto Parts on the gps and made my way there, hoping they could charge my battery or test the alternator. With a bad alternator I found a hotel downtown; the last one with a room. My trip was cut short by this inconvenience and I was left with little choices. There is not a lot between Augusta and I-26 so I was grateful I ended up in the small town of Newberry.
But it got better.
The Hampton is in the historic district. It was late when I checked in and restaurants were closing. I found The Storm Cellar, a cigar bar under a restaurant called the Cabana. Although, a little pricey the food was excellent. I decided if I’m forced to be here, I might as well eat a good dinner. I had salmon with a hollandaise sauce, capers and rosemary red potatoes. I enjoyed every min of it! Not a lot was left when I was done. The service was excellent.
I had plenty of time the next day waiting for my car to be repaired. After working a while, I ventured out to explore the town. The small historic district is full shops and antiques. Anything from repurposed furniture, clothing, to a small grocery called Figaro Market. The market is full of variety with a unique wine selection, café food, and candy.
I wondered, what keeps the hotels full here? Apparently, there are some new industries in the area as well as entertainment. The Newberry Opera House is booked with continuous music and shows. That morning when I walked outside with my coffee, a huge bus with the Oak Ridge Boys was painted down the side. They were playing that evening! “Oh boy”, I thought, “I’m definitely not getting a room tonight. I sure hope they finish my car.”
The Opera House was completed in 1881 and the building is a beautiful display of architecture. Many New York touring companies have appeared on its stage as well as, minstrel and variety shows, musicians, and novelty acts. It is considered the performing arts center for the Midlands of South Carolina.
I had lunch at the Corner Scoop. An ice cream shop along Main St. that serves a variety of sandwiches along with their treats. My BLT was perfect!
Every place I went the people were friendly and welcoming. It definitely turned my stressful situation into a pleasurable visit.
After lunch I continued to meander through the shops in the downtown area.
Probably the most unique store to experience while there is the Clarence T. Summer, Inc hardware store. Founded in 1928, this family owned store is now run by the grandson of Clarence T. Summer, Bill Shull.
I walked into a tunnel of the past and present. Although, there are tools, belts, bulbs, paintbrushes, that can be bought new, they are mixed in with lanterns, old sinks and popcorn carts from years past.
Aisle after aisle of treasures provides nostalgia and education! I had to ask Bill, what a few things were.
Bill is a treasure all by himself. Periodically lighting his pipe, he didn’t move from his warm spot next to his pop bellied stove. He enjoyed talking about his own father and his Noble Prize award for physics. This was especially interesting because Bill was born in the same town I grew up in, Oak Ridge, TN. Anybody that is curious can get a history lesson from Bill about the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the research done there.
I’ll stick with Newberry though!
With rich southern history and amazingly friendly people, Newberry is worth a day trip and an evening at the Opera House for a show. If your heading to the mountains, make it a stop for lunch and a stroll for some antiquing! You won’t be disappointed.
It would have been nice to see the country western legends that evening, however they got my car fixed and I was on my way. Sometimes we take the fastest route around little towns to get where we are going and miss the treasures of people and places inside. My inconvenient day turned out to be an experience I’m happy I get to share.