Laurens, South Carolina
|Motto: "Gateway to the Upstate"|
Location of Laurens in South Carolina
|• Mayor||Sharon Brownlee|
|• City||10.6 sq mi (27.4 km2)|
|• Land||10.6 sq mi (27.4 km2)|
|• Water||0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)|
|Elevation||610 ft (186 m)|
|• Density||936/sq mi (361.5/km2)|
|• Metro||66,537 (Laurens County)|
|Time zone||EST (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|GNIS feature ID||1246310|
The small town of Laurens, South Carolina was established by an act of the General Assembly on March 15, 1785 as a location for commercial activities. It was one of the six counties created for the original Ninety-Six Districts of South Carolina. Laurens was originally named Laurensville. On December 15, 1845, a charter was issued with the name of Laurensville. The first appearance of the town named Laurens was in an 1873 charter. The town of Laurens was chartered in 1900 and in 1916. The town was named in the honor of Henry Laurens, the South Carolina statesman.
The first inhabitants of Laurens were the Cherokee Indians. They used the land as their hunting and fighting ground. There has been evidence of broken potsherds, weapons, and a mound found linked to Cherokee culture on land now called Laurens. There were many treaties made with the Cherokee Indians over the land known as Laurens County dating back to 1721. Before the America Revolution thousands of immigrants, mainly from Scotland and Ireland, settled in Laurens County. Later Laurens developed into a major intersection of commerce in the colonial America. In the Battle of Musgrove Mill, Laurens witnessed intense fighting.
In 1790, after the Revolutionary War, Laurens was elected as the county seat. Like other southern towns, cotton was the major crop being produced. The high amount of cotton production led to an economic boom and a substantial increase in the African American population. The economic boom attracted wealthy entrepreneurs and businessmen to Laurens. Andrew Johnson, 17th President of the United States, worked as a tailor downtown Laurens from 1824 until 1826.
Before the beginning of the Civil War, Laurens provided a great deal of political leaders to the state government. The state’s decision to secede from the Union was influenced by many of those political leaders. The fighting of the Civil War never neared Laurens. But Laurens was affected by the influx of refugees that fled Charleston to avoid the progressing Union Army and Navy. Several of the refugees settled in Laurens after the Civil War.
The years after the Civil War, Reconstruction, the economy of Laurens revolved to include industry. The recovery of Laurens' economy was dependent upon the creation of the textiles and manufacturing industry after the civil war. In 1985, Lauren Cotton Mill was founded, and Watts Mill was started in 1902. Laurens Glass Company was established 1910, which was one of the largest glass plants in the southeast for over eighty years. The Laurens Railroad Company was chartered in 1847. The Columbia-Newberry-Laurens Railroad and the Charleston-Western Carolina Railroad are the two major intersections provided by the railroad.
The textile, manufacturing, and glass industries were at one point a major source of employment. Although many of the textile plants and the glass production facilities have closed over the last 30 years, a variety of industries exist within the county, including corporations like CeramTec, International Paper, Milliken & Co. and others. Walmart operates a distribution center outside of the city near Interstate 385, which serves as a major employer. The area has seen several recent economic retail developments, and is seeing new capital investment in heavy industry, including a major new transmission production facility for German ZF Group. The unemployment rate, as of February 2012, sat at 9.6%.
Laurens was the town chosen for a makeover in the second season of Town Haul.
Laurens is home to Gary Davis and Pink Anderson, acoustic blues musicians who were born in the city, as well as Redtop Davis, lightweight boxer of the 1940s and 1950s. J.T. Taylor, the lead singer of the funk/R&B band Kool & The Gang, grew up in Laurens.
The Courthouse Square consists of four acres that was purchased in 1792 for two guineas, which is around $21,000 (Bolick, 1982). The Laurens County Courthouse is placed in the center of the square. The current courthouse is the third courthouse. The first courthouse was constructed of wood. It was used as a church, school, and courthouse. The second courthouse was made of brick. Dr. John Wells Simpson built the third courthouse in 1838. The courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Laurens’ church district has two historic churches, which are located on Caroline Street. Bethel AME Church is one of the historic churches in the district. Columbus White, a former slave and builder, designed the church in 1910. But the first church structure was built in 1868. In 1877, Saint Paul First Baptist, which neighbors Bethel AME Church, was established. Columbus White also built Saint Paul First Baptist in 1912. The church is styled in Gothic Revival. The church also served as the county’s first African American public school until 1937.
The Church of the Epiphany is Lauren’s oldest church building still operating. The church was constructed in 1846. The First United Methodist Church represents Romanesque Revival architecture. The church was built in 1897. In 1834, the First Baptist Church was originally built. The name of the original church was Laurensville Baptist Church. In 1850, the first sanctuary was built. In 1893, the second church was constructed. The present sanctuary was built in 1958. The First Presbyterian Church was organized on April 1, 1832, but the present church structure was built in 1891. The first preacher of the church was Samuel B. Lewers. He served the church for eighteen years. The church is built in the style of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture.
The West Main Street District is where most of the historical houses are located. The Watts-Todd-Dunklin House was built in 1812. Washington Williams built the house as a wedding gift for his daughter, Nancy. His daughter married James Watts. In 1843, Nancy sold the property to Samuel Todd. The Todd family has owned the house for about one hundred years. The house is registered on the National Register of Historic Places.
In 1859, Colonel John Drayton built the Williams-Ball-Copeland House. The house has an Italian Villa architectural design. Over the past two centuries, several families have owned the house. The South Carolina Baptist Ministries for the Aging bought the house in 1970.
The Governor Simpson House was originally built by one of the first families of Laurens, Christopher Garlington, in 1839. The style of the house is Greek Revival. Major Adam Eichelberger bought the home from the Garlington family. Several years later, Major Adam Eichelberger sold the house to W.D. Simpson, the former South Carolina Governor. The Motes family is the current owner of the house.
Another historic house registered on the National Register of Historic Places is the Charles H. Duckett House, which is located right off of West Main Street. The house was built in 1892. The owner of the house, Charles Duckett, was a freedman who owned a retail lumber business and was a member of the Bethel AME Church.
The John Calvin Owings House is one of the landmarks in Laurens. In 1896, George F. Barber designed the house, which is characterized by its gingerbread details and turrets. The Edna Poole House is also located on West Main Street, and it is designed in the Art Deco style. Home Magazine and World’s Fair in Chicago featured the Edna Poole House.
The Octagon House is one of the two octagonal buildings in South Carolina. Between 1850 and 1859, Reverend Zelotes Lee Holmes built the house. The design and architecture are accredited to the brother of the builder who was an engineer. Reverend Zelotes Lee Holmes was a Presbyterian minister and educator in Laurens. The Octagon House, A Home for All by Orson Fowler was published in 1853 was based upon the construction of the house. The house was sold to the Holmes family after the death of Reverend Holmes in 1885.
Other listings on the National Register of Historic Places are the Albright-Dukes House, Lyde Irby Darlington House, Allen Dial House, Charles H. Duckett House, Dr. William Claudius Irby House, Irby-Henderson-Todd House, Laurens Historic District, Nickels-Milam House, Sitgreaves House, South Harper Historic District, Sullivan House, and Wilson-Clary House.
Geography and climate
Laurens is located at (34.500717, -82.018271).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 10.6 square miles (27 km2), all of it land.
Laurens has a generally mild climate. The average wintertime high is 59 °F and the average wintertime low is 36 °F. The average summertime high is 89 °F and the average summertime low is 65 °F. The city averages around 4.6" of rainfall monthly.
As of the census of 2000, there were 9,916 people, 3,952 households, and 2,596 families residing in the city. The population density was 936.6 people per square mile (361.5/km²). There were 4,396 housing units at an average density of 415.2 per square mile (160.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 53.72% White, 43.57% African American, 0.26% Native American, 0.16% Asian, 0.11% Pacific Islander, 1.34% from other races, and 0.84% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.42% of the population. A 2009 census estimate put the city's population at 9,478.
There were 3,952 households out of which 30.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.0% were married couples living together, 23.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.3% were non-families. 31.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 2.97.
In the city the population was spread out with 25.0% under the age of 18, 8.4% from 18 to 24, 25.2% from 25 to 44, 21.7% from 45 to 64, and 19.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 81.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 74.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $28,756, and the median income for a family was $36,656. Males had a median income of $28,149 versus $21,883 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,582. About 12.9% of families and 17.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.8% of those under age 18 and 15.5% of those age 65 or over.
The Laurens City Hall is located on the town square. The form of government is Mayor/Council. Sharon Brownlee currently serves as mayor, and members of City Council include: Marian Miller, Richard Griffin, Sylvia S. Douglas, Sara Latimore, Martin Lowry, Johnnie L. Bolt.
Laurens is the home of WLBG-AM 860, which carries a news/talk format as 'Real Radio 860.' This radio station is well-respected and the oldest of the two daily news sources in Laurens, SC. Their feature program is 'Good Morning Upcountry' with host Randy Stevens. WLBG also covers local news every morning, with smaller news "recap" segments interspersed throughout the day. Laurens also has a daily news website, GoLaurens.com. It covers news, sports and crime daily. The city's only print newspaper, The Laurens County Advertiser, is a weekly, published every Wednesday. A smaller version, called The Advertiser EXTRA, is published and distributed every Friday and distributed via mail. Unlike the large version of the Advertiser, the Laurens County Advertiser Extra is distributed free of charge, without subscription to many residents throughout Laurens County. Laurens is home to the upstate's premier commercial printer, Print-A-Matic, Inc., founded by Robert Seymour in 1979. The Laurens County Community Access Channel, ACCESS 15, a Public, educational, and government access (PEG) cable TV channel is broadcast over Charter Cable channel 15.
- Pink Anderson, blues singer.
- John Glen, Mayor of Atlanta.
- Bob Hazle, baseball player.
- Hilary A. Herbert, Secretary of the Navy under President Grover Cleveland.
- Ali Rogers, Miss South Carolina 2012.
- James "J.T." Taylor, singer best known as the former lead singer of the R&B/funk band, Kool & The Gang.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- Manning, Sam (1982). The Scrapebook. Laurens: Laurens County Historical Society and Laurens County arts Council. pp. 597–599. Unknown ID 3846610149102.
- "Communities". Laurens County Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
- Bolick, Julian (1973). A Laurens County Sketchbook. Clinton: Jacob Press. pp. 3–7. OCLC 629166. Unknown ID 38466100203263.
- Bolick, Julian (1973). A Laurens County Sketchbook. Clinton: Jacobs Press. pp. 10–13. OCLC 629166. Unknown ID 38466100203263.
- "History of Laurens County". Laurens County Museum Association. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09.
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- "The Laurens County Advertiser". Advertising Printing Company. Retrieved 3 January 2012.
- Laurens City, SC Official Website
- Laurens County, SC Official Website
- Laurens County Chamber of Commerce
- Laurens County History
- The Laurens County Advertiser Online
- ACCESS 15, Laurens County Community Access Channel