Our Photographers Contact Us
Our Patrons Please Give Today Add Images Add History Our Work South Carolina Picture Project

Ridgeway — Ridgeway, South Carolina

SC Picture Project  |  Fairfield County  |  Ridgeway

Adopt A South Carolina Landmark

Though Scots-Irish settlers arrived in present-day Ridgeway in the late 1700s, the town was formally established when a railroad from Columbia to Winnsboro was completed in 1850. The railroad was built on a ridge, giving the town its name. Residents of the Lowcountry had begun relocating to the area in the early nineteenth century to escape the heat and humidity of the coast, believing the Upstate would offer a healthier clime. The railroad further increased the population of Ridgeway, and soon more businesses began to pop up in the small town.

Ridgeway, SC Main Street Aerial

Mark Collins of Columbia, 2019 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

David Ruff was Ridgeway’s first merchant, opening a general store in 1840 that still adorns North Palmer Street, the town’s main thoroughfare. In the pictures above and below, his wooden store with the peaked metal roof remains standing as a museum. (The neighboring store also goes by the name of Ruff’s.)

Ridgeway, South Carolina

SCIWAY, 2008 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Palmer Street is Ridgeway’s main thoroughfare. The street was named in honor of Edward Gendron Palmer (pronounced PAL-mer, with a flat a), one of Ridgeway’s first settlers. Palmer was a Huguenot from the St. James-Santee Parish near Charleston. A planter, Palmer lived in a grand home at nearby Valencia Plantation, which he built in 1834, and also established Cedar Tree Plantation in 1853 for his son, Dr. John Davis Palmer. In fact, prior to the arrival of the railroad, the area now known as Ridgeway was called New Lands, the name Edward Palmer gave to his parcel of more than 6,000 acres, which he acquired in 1824.

Downtown Ridgeway

Treva Thomas Hammond of Rock Hill, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

During the Civil War, a home in Ridgeway known as the Century House was used as a headquarters for General Beauregard from February 17-19, 1865. General Beauregard was evacuating Columbia before the arrival of General Sherman. Today the historic home serves as Town Hall. Other independent businesses thrive in historic buildings, such as Laura’s Tea Room, which occupies the top floor of the former Thomas Store, built in 1880. Also downtown is Ridgeway’s first Methodist church, Ruff’s Chapel, established by aforementioned merchant David Ruff in 1873.

Palmer Street Ridgeway SC

Courtesy of the Town of Ridgeway

More Pictures of Ridgeway

Below are more photos of historic buildings in downtown Ridgeway. The Ruff name can be found all over town; even if a building doesn’t bear the ubiquitous surname, some structures can still trace their history to the Ruff family. The Ruff and Company building, pictured directly below, was built in 1901 and stands next to the original Ruff Store, seen above. Today the store is owned and operated by Dan Ruff, a sixth-generation of merchant of the Ridgeway family.

Ruff and Co. in Ridgeway, SC

SCIWAY, 2008 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The original Ruff Furniture Store, seen below, was built around the same time. The turn-of-the-century brick building is now occupied by the Palmer Street Market, the parent business of Cotton Yard Market, seen at the top of the page. In fact, the businesses are housed in three adjacent commercial buildings. Ruff Furniture remains in business and now stands next door to Palmer Street Market in the former Johnson building, a commercial building erected in the early 1900s by W.J. Johnson.

Ridgeway, SC

SCIWAY, 2008 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The cotton gin seen below was added to the landscape in 1947 as Ruff’s Gin House. Murray signs hang from the building because the gin was made by the Murray Company of Texas. The name Murray appears on many other gins across the South (1). The industrial building is presently used for storage. It stands behind the 1840 Ruff Store.

Murray Gins in Ridgeway, SC

SCIWAY, 2008 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

R.H. Lee and Company Auctioneers is located within another early 1900s building downtown. The brick structure has been an A-Model Ford dealership as well as a cotton warehouse. The business showcases its passion for antiques with a cashier’s window from the old Kershaw County Courthouse and carriage lights from Winthrop University.

R. H. Lee in Ridgeway, SC

SCIWAY, 2008 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The water tower stands next to the cotton gin, behind the old Ruff Store, providing water to this town of about 300 people. It also lets visitors to the charming village know that they have arrived at their destination.

Ridgeway, SC Water Tower

Mark Collins of Columbia, 2019 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Below is a remnant of Hollywood, a mural from the fictional restaurant, McDermott’s Chicken. Set in Ridgeway, the 1989 movie Staying Together was filmed in the South Carolina town.

McDermott's Famous Chicken Mural

SCIWAY, 2008 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

A relic from the old Ridgeway High School stands sentry over the town. The school opened in 1921 and closed in the early 1960s. It was demolished, save for this entranceway, in the early 2000s.

Ridgeway School Facade

Tom Taylor of Greenville, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Many of the commercial buildings in downtown Ridgeway are listed in the National Register as the Ridgeway Historic District:

The Ridgeway Historic District is significant as an example of a virtually intact turn-of-the-century town whose development was inextricably tied to agricultural prosperity. A majority of the buildings in the district were built between 1890 and 1915, the heyday of cotton production in the area. The community developed in an east-west linear pattern paralleling the Southern Railway tracks, completed in 1850. After a period of economic depression following the Civil War, Ridgeway began to develop as a commercial center serving area farmers. By 1880 there were ten stores located in the commercial district, two stores still survive. The town’s merchants constructed modern new brick stores along Palmer Street and some also built their homes in the residential section adjacent to the central business district. The district contains approximately thirty-one buildings including a commercial block with a predominance of simply ornamented two-story brick stores and a residential block with primarily asymmetrical, frame, weatherboarded houses lining the tree shaded streets. Styles include Queen Anne, Neo-Classical, Victorian, and Bungalow. Also included are a school, the town hall, and the police station.

Ridgeway: Our Sources

1. Marilyn Potter Jones: Submitted November 8, 2018.

Ridgeway Info

Address: North Palmer Street, Ridgeway, SC 29130
GPS Coordinates: 34.307280,-80.960444

Ridgeway Map

Please Share Your Thoughts!

Did you enjoy this page? Do you have any information we should add? Send us your comments below — we can't wait to hear from you!

4 Comments about Ridgeway

Ginger Mattox says:
January 26th, 2019 at 1:03 pm

I grew up in Ridgeway and live here currently. I’ve been trying to locate any pictures or history of the brick store (where one corner still stands) that Old Brick Store Road was named after. It is located about 8 miles from Ridgeway on Longtown Road.

Theresa Edmunds says:
January 12th, 2019 at 9:27 pm

I grew up in Ridgeway SC. Is there anywhere there I can use my metal detector? Please email me …. thanks

SC Picture Project says:
November 8th, 2018 at 10:02 am

Marilyn, we appreciate this info so much, and we have added a credit to you on our page. See “Sources” above. We would love to be able to add your hometown to your credit, so if you can send us that, it would be wonderful. You can reply to this comment or email us at share@scpictureproject.org.

Marilyn Potter Jones says:
November 8th, 2018 at 7:11 am

Thank you for your research. I always enjoy learning more about our families and where they settled. One note: Murray is the name of the company that made the gin. Not the owner of the gin. You will find the Murray name on many gins across the South.


Join Us on Facebook
Follow Us on Instagram
See Us on Pinterest


Abbeville ACE Basin Adams Run Aiken Alcolu Allendale Anderson Awendaw Bamberg Banks Barns & Farms Barnwell Batesburg-Leesville Beaches Beaufort Beech Island Belton Bennettsville Bishopville Blackville Bluffton Branchville Bridges Bygone Landmarks Camden Carnegie Libraries Cayce Cemeteries Charleston Charleston Navy Base Cheraw Chester Chesterfield Churches Clemson Clinton Clio Colleges Columbia Conway Cordesville Courthouses Darlington Daufuskie Island Denmark Dillon Donalds Easley Edgefield Edisto Ehrhardt Elloree Eutawville Fairfax Florence Folly Beach Forests and Nature Preserves Fort Mill Fountain Inn Gaffney Garden City Beach Georgetown Glenn Springs Graniteville Great Falls Greeleyville Greenville Greenwood Greer Hamburg Hampton Hardeeville Hartsville Hemingway Hilton Head Historical Photos Historic Houses Hodges Holly Hill Honea Path Hopkins Hotels & Inns Huger Hunting Island Isle of Palms Jails James Island Jamestown Johns Island Johnsonville Johnston Kiawah Island Kingstree Lake City Lake Marion Lakes Lancaster Landrum Latta Laurens Lexington Libraries Lighthouses Little River Lowndesville Manning Marion Mars Bluff McClellanville McCormick Military Mills Moncks Corner Mountains Mount Carmel Mount Pleasant Mullins Murrells Inlet Myrtle Beach National Register Newberry Ninety Six North Augusta North Charleston North Myrtle Beach Orangeburg Pacolet Parks Pawleys Island Pendleton Pickens Piers Pinewood Pinopolis Plantations Pomaria Port Royal Post Offices Prosperity Ravenel Restaurants Ridgeland Ridge Spring Ridgeway Rivers Roadside Oddities Robert Mills Rock Hill Rockville Rosenwald Schools Salters Saluda Santee Savannah River Site SC Artists SC Heroes of the Alamo Schools Seneca Shrimp Boats Society Hill Spartanburg Sports Springs St. George St. Helena Island St. Matthews Stateburg Stores Sullivan's Island Summerton Summerville Sumter Sunset Synagogues Town Clocks Trains & Depots Trees Trenton Troy Turbeville Ulmer Union Wadmalaw Island Walhalla Walterboro Ware Shoals Waterfalls Water Towers Wedgefield West Columbia Westminster Winnsboro Woodruff Yemassee York