Travelers along United States Highway 17 from Charleston towards the Grand Strand will pass a vacant country store just below the South Santee River. Called Bonnie’s Barn, the shell of the once-thriving McClellanville store sits on a three-acre lot in front of the merchant’s home. The store was active during much of the twentieth century and was an oasis for motorists along the highway and a last stop for sportsmen on their way to the Santee Gun Club, now Santee Coastal Reserve.
The store’s proprietor was Bonnie Thames, one of three brothers who owned and operated general stores at various locations along Highway 17. Herbert Thames ran his store from Awendaw, about 18 or so miles south of this store, and Jennings Thames owned a store across the North Santee River. Jennings Thames’ store is still in operation under different ownership, called Carolina Country Store.
General stores run in the Thames family. Bulls Bay Supply, a general store also on the well-traversed Highway 17, closed its doors in January of 2013 after 33 years of operation. A familiar stop for beach travelers, it was most recently owned by Oliver Thames, Herbert Thames’ grandson, and run by Thames and his cousin, Charlotte Thames Morse. Charlotte’s grandfather was Bonnie Thames of Bonnie’s Barn. Bulls Bay Supply originally opened as a general store in 1894 and served as several different businesses until Oliver Thames bought the building and opened his own store in 1980.
Today Bonnie’s Barn and House are the last buildings seen before crossing the South Santee River. The property, now for sale, is surrounded by protected wetlands and historic rice fields. It also sits near Hampton and Wedge plantations.
More Pictures of Bonnie’s Barn
More Pictures of Bonnie’s House
Interior Pictures of Bonnie’s House