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Georgetown Rice Museum — Georgetown, South Carolina

SC Picture Project  |  Georgetown County  |  Georgetown Rice Museum

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Georgetown Rice Museum

Georgetown is beautiful, scenic, and historic – three attributes fully reflected in its signature Rice Museum. We’ll explore each of these assets in detail, but first, a note about the museum’s location, which can be a bit confusing for visitors:

The Rice Museum is housed in a complex of two separate buildings. The buildings are the Old Market Building – known locally as the “Georgetown Town Clock” – and the Kaminski Hardware Building. Both buildings are located at the intersection of Front and Screven streets, where they stand just across from each other.

Rice Museum – Town Clock & Old Market Building

The portion of the Rice Museum located in the Georgetown Town Clock and Old Market Building focuses primarily on the influence of the rice culture on both Georgetown and South Carolina as a whole. It features artwork, artifacts, interactive tours, dioramas, and maps.

Paige Sawyer of Georgetown, 2010 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Rice Museum – Kaminski Hardware Building

The Kaminski Hardware Building houses the Rice Museum’s gift shop on the first floor and its Provost Art Gallery on the second. The third floor is devoted to the display of the Browns Ferry Vessel, which is widely considered the most important maritime artifact discovered in the United States to date.

Kaminski Hardware in Georgetown, SC

Jimmy Emerson of Hamilton, AL, 2012 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Rice in Georgetown’s History

For over a century, rice sustained Georgetown, making this the most grand but also most grievous chapter in its history. Georgetown County was home to some of the largest slave-holding plantations in the state, averaging between 200 and 500 slaves each. When renowned architect and surveyor Robert Mills visited Georgetown in 1826, he commented on how intrinsic rice was to its culture:

In Georgetown every thing is fed on rice; horse and cattle eat the straw and bran, fowls, etc. are sustained by the refuse; and man subsists upon the marrow of the grain.

Senegalese, Gambians, and Angolans were captured by hostile tribes and sold to European and American traders who valued their rice-growing skills. Some believe Angolan slaves gave rise to the word “Gullah” through a shortened version of Angola – N’Gulla.

The Civil War erupted at Fort Sumter in 1861 and changed Georgetown forever. Planters struggled to keep the rice industry alive without a free labor pool, and a succession of major hurricanes devastated Lowcountry fields.

To further complicate matters, rice planters in Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, California, and Mississippi began serving up some stiff competition. They benefited from modern harvesting equipment, but coastal South Carolina’s wet, muddy soil could not support the heavy machines. In the face of these obstacles, rice was no longer a viable crop, and Georgetown’s last commercial harvest took place in 1919.

Georgetown Rice Museum Info

Address: 633 Front Street, Georgetown, SC 29442
GPS Coordinates: 33.365556,-79.282489
Website: http://www.ricemuseum.org/

Georgetown Rice Museum Map

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7 Comments about Georgetown Rice Museum

SC Picture Project says:
August 19th, 2019 at 4:04 pm

Hi Joe! The phone number is 843-546-7423. Best of luck, and we’re glad you enjoy the rice!

Joe Pyatt says:
August 18th, 2019 at 4:42 pm

Enjoyed this information. Is there a number there to the museum? I bought rice from there many times. I just wanted to ask the clerk, the lady who sold me the rice, if there is any way she can send me four bags of the rice?

Karin Wales says:
October 20th, 2017 at 9:26 pm

I have to make a correction to the date I had given. It was 1986 or 1987 not the 1970s when I visited the Rice Museum and thought the display looked different then it does now.

Karin Wales says:
October 20th, 2017 at 9:18 pm

I had visited the Rice Museum in the early 1970s and remembered a different layout of the displays with large glass displays in the center of a room. Had that been changed to todays display? I was there today October 20th 2017.

Darlene Campbell says:
May 20th, 2017 at 4:35 pm

I went to the Rice Museum today, it was very nice.

Mike Stroud says:
September 18th, 2013 at 6:02 am

The USA Rice Federation tells us: There are several stories regarding the introduction of rice to America. One talks of a Dutch ship that in 1694 set sail from Madagascar. Storm-battered, it took refuge in South Carolina’s Charleston Harbor, Charleston’s inhabitants gave the crew a warm welcome and helped repair the ship. The departing ship’s English captain expressed his gratitude to the community by presenting it with a sample of his cargo, ‘Golde Seed Rice’. These precious rice seeds were the forerunners of a now famous rice type – ‘Carolina Gold’. South Carolina became the first American state to farm rice, although following the Civil War it ceased to do so, and rice farming moved westward to Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.

Alice Levkoff says:
June 20th, 2013 at 7:28 pm

The owner of Anson Mills suggested Dr. James Fitch mentioned Italian farmers were the first to bring rice cultivation to the Lowcountry.

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