South Carolina Picture Project
South Carolina Picture Project

Ashwood — Bishopville, South Carolina

SC Picture Project  |  Lee County  |  Ashwood

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The Ashwood community in Lee County was developed in the 1930s as part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. After the stock market crash of 1929, President Roosevelt created a plan to help impoverished Americans, particularly rural Southerners and tenant farmers, become self-sufficient. The Resettlement Administration Projects, part of the New Deal, would convert defunct farmland into workable farms owned by residents and surrounded by a community of support facilities such as schools, barns, and silos.

Lake Ashwood Lee County

E.M. Jackson of Bishopville, 2014 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Parts of rural Lee County qualified for the Resettlement Project, and Ashwood was formed near Bishopville. Ashwood consisted mostly of small, independent farms and included a building that functioned as a school, a gymnasium, and a community gathering place. Lake Ashwood, seen above and at the bottom of this page, was built as part of the agricultural development of the community. Today the 75-acre lake remains a popular fishing spot.

Ashwood Gym

Pete Lawrence of Sumter, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The Ashwood School Gymnasium was built in 1938 and quickly became a place where residents could congregate for plays, concerts, community meetings, and sports after school hours. The school is no longer in operation, though the gymnasium building still serves as a community center for the people of Ashwood.

Ashwood Lake

E.M. Jackson of Bishopville, 2014 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The Ashwood School Gymnasium are listed in the National Register:

The Ashwood School Gymnasium and Auditorium was built in 1938 to serve Ashwood Plantation, the first and largest of the Resettlement Administration (RA) project tracts in South Carolina. It is significant for the role it has played in politics and government and the social history of the Lee County community, and architecturally as an excellent and remarkably intact example of Resettlement Administration Architecture in South Carolina. It is the most significant and intact manifestation of the Ashwood resettlement project remaining in what was once a vibrant farming community.

The Ashwood community was created by the New Deal resettlement program to convert defunct plantation or farm land into a self-sustaining community of independent farms with educational, agricultural, and commercial support facilities. The building served as the school and community gymnasium for athletics, dances, and community meetings and as an auditorium for dramatic performances and films, in a rural place in the time before television and mass media. The school itself is no longer extant. As a part of the ambitious Ashwood project, the gymnasium/auditorium served an important role in the Resettlement Administration and New Deal’s goals to improve the health and education of the poorer classes, especially that of Southern tenant farmers. The simplified Colonial Revival architecture reflects a style that was popular nationwide in the 1930s, especially in government-sponsored construction, but also the economic situation of the era and the rural Southern character of its surroundings.

We would like to add more information about Ashwood, as well as a picture of the Ashwood School Gymnasium. If you can contribute either, please let us know. Thank you for helping to make the South Carolina Picture Project more complete!

Reflections on the Ashwood Gymnasium

Maureen Christopher share the following: “My husband, Coach Dick Christopher, spent many hours in that sports gymnasium from 1967 through 1971. He was the school’s Assistant Principal and Athletic Director, P.E. Teacher, and baseball coach and basketball coach. He loved Ashwood Central High School! His red Volvo was seen often in yearbook pictures. He often told me that he would pile the young athletes in the back of the Volvo and take them to the colleges on the weekends to football games to show them what they could aspire to – college! He also said he kept the gym open on the weekends so they could practice their basketball skills. And that they did, as they won many games! Fisher DeBerry is a friend of ours, and he said that he refereed many of Coach Christopher’s games in that gym.

“Fisher and Dick later went on to coach football at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. Dick received his Master’s degree in coaching, but he always said that he loved being at Ashwood Central High School! The kids dedicated the 1970 Ram Yearbook to him, too! I believe he was the head baseball coach when they won the baseball runner up title in the 1967-1968 school year. He spoke of that game often.

“We brought Coach Christopher to the reunion in 2015 and had a great time! Former students cried when they saw him. He had had a stroke, but he knew them all. The cheerleaders told me what a great role model he had been and that he had also coached them in girls’ basketball. It was all so exciting for him to be there. As he raised his hand when I was turning the car around, he said. “Wait…” He had recognized that gym. It was heartbreaking!”

Ashwood Info

Address: United States Highway 15, Bishopville, SC 29010
GPS Coordinates: 34.103,-80.318

Ashwood Map

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15 Comments about Ashwood

Mike Kirby says:
August 3rd, 2019 at 8:06 pm

I believe I saw a picture of the Ashwood Plantation house on the government website showing pictures of Ashwood Project.

Mike Kirby says:
August 3rd, 2019 at 7:50 pm

My family owned the Kirby farm in Ashwood. It is located across from Ashwood store, then down that paved road on the right across the road from the Pace Farm. My granddaddy, Heyward Kirby, bought it around 1939. It was around 40 acres of cleared land plus a 15-acre wooded lot in the swamp for firewood. It came with the livestock barn, chicken pen, and a small pasture. Also included were the round metal outhouse and windmill. My dad told me water was piped into the kitchen sink and to a barn. Dad said about 1940 the summer sun was shining on the metal water tank of the wind mill. The water was so hot that steam came out of the kitchen faucet so they took out that tank and installed a tongue-and-groove wooden tank. When they opened the blades and unlocked the windmill as the pump pushed water up to the tank, the wooden tank leaked. As a child, he looked up and thought this tank will never work, but it swelled and did not leak anymore. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, he heard it on Mr. Pace’s radio – both families sitting in living room. He thought the enemy was just around the corner. My grandmother worked in the Ashwood school cafeteria. She passed in 1962. We sold the farm in the 1970s with heavy hearts. Best dove hunting and quail hunting I ever had. Enjoyed my years in the 1970s there.

SC Picture Project says:
May 1st, 2019 at 8:54 pm

How interesting, thank you for sharing! We would love to see photos of the house if you didn’t mind sharing some. Our email address is Thank you for reaching out!

Alice Kamin says:
April 29th, 2019 at 5:00 pm

We live in what was an Ashwood house. The farm is 100 acres, we own half and someone else owns the other half. The house is the only building left. Part of the outhouse was here but we took it to the Cotton Museum. The round metal building with a pointed roof. Concrete throne. Fire department said they had to burn the barn before it fell in. We found meal harness parts and a couple of mule shoes. We were told the supervisor from the Stucky Plantation lived here in the late 30s.

Laura Kirk says:
June 13th, 2017 at 5:31 am

Ara Pate-Boyer, I haven’t found a Gordon but there’s a W.T. Pate that was in the ranks. Your best bet would be to request his records from the place listed here:

Ara Pate-Boyer says:
June 12th, 2017 at 9:17 pm

Laura Kirk, you stated that you have pictures of CCC when Lee State Park and Ashwood was being built. I have been told that my father was a Captain over the CCC, his name was Gordan Pate, do you know if you have any pictures or confirmation of this?

EAllen says:
April 30th, 2017 at 2:00 pm

So hoping it will have water again!

Wesley Brewer says:
April 2nd, 2017 at 5:14 pm

Would like some info on the Ashwood School Reunion. My mother attend school there and I would like to go to the reunion.

Laura Kirk says:
September 16th, 2016 at 2:07 pm

Donald, I have records of CCC men from Company 4471 who also built Lee State Park, helping to build the original dam and spillway in 1938. Those CCC men could have been in a temporary camp during construction.

Donald Vause says:
September 7th, 2016 at 4:24 pm

I went to first grade of school at Ashwood. I remember my Dad being in a camp of government workers located near the dam on Lake Ashwood. Does anyone remember such a place?

SCIWAY says:
February 23rd, 2016 at 7:28 am

Hi, Roger. I’m afraid we don’t have the answer to your question. We suggest contacting someone from the City of Bishopville: Best of luck!

Roger Peek says:
February 22nd, 2016 at 6:12 pm

Is the Ashwood Community Center Available For Daily Rental? If so and you have a contact number please email me. Thanks.

William Fields says:
January 5th, 2016 at 3:21 am

This link to the SC Department of Archives and History will get you additional pictures of the Ashwood Project including the interior of the GYM.

Suzett Glover says:
July 27th, 2015 at 9:06 am

Yes, I was looking for the direct address for Ashwood Lake Park in Bishopville.

Michael James Young says:
June 28th, 2015 at 11:04 pm

Ashwood was a station on the Seaboard Air Line Railroad branch line that once extended from Hartsville to Sumter. By 1979, the line between Ashwood and Sumter was abandoned and removed. It remained in service to Ashwood for a period of time to serve local customers, however, within a relatively short time the Bishopville-Ashwood segment was also removed. A portion of it was subsequently restored to serve the Lee County Landfill. The railroad between the landfill, Bishopville and Hartsville remains in service and is now owned and operated by the South Carolina Central Railroad.


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