A History of McCormick, South Carolina

McCormick County Court House - McCormick, SC (2008)

In February, 1852, William Burkhalter Dorn discovered the second-richest vein of gold in South Carolina history on the site of the present town of McCormick, the County Seat of McCormick County. At that time the land was owned by Dr. John Wardlaw Hearst, a relative of the famous family of newspaper fame.

Dorn’s Mine Post Office had a dozen families living nearby when Cyrus Hall McCormick, inventor of the reaper and "father of farm mechanization," bought the gold mine and land for $20,000. When the mines proved to be unprofitable, he purchased stock in both the Augusta & Knoxville Railroad and the Savannah Valley Railroad and through his influence, both of them intersected on his land in McCormick. For the town, he ordered forty acres surveyed and laid out in squares, which were alphabetically listed and divided into 30’ by 90’ lots. He auctioned the lots and gave property for the churches, school, and cemetery. Cyrus McCormick never visited his property, but his wife Nettie took on the community as her personal social project.

McCormick Station c.1965

The original McCormick Station was built by the railroad with assistance from Cyrus McCormick. The current depot, (built in 1911) is the geographical center of town. In 1882, the town was incorporated as McCormick with three unique features: built over a gold mine; a planned town; and the first village to be incorporated as a "dry" town in South Carolina, which prohibited the sale of liquor for a period of one hundred years.

The town of McCormick had eight passenger trains a day, which were met by porters from the three hotels across the street from the commercial district. Salesmen opened their cases in the "Drummer Rooms" for merchants to view. Two of the hotels, the McCormick and the Keturah, still stand near the train tracks, facing the downtown storefronts. The "Keturah Hotel," also known as the "Carolina Hotel," is on the National Register and since 1985, the home of the McCormick Arts Council. The McCormick Hotel, a temperance hotel, built in 1884 to serve travelers, was donated to the town of McCormick in December 1991, sold and restored as Fannie Kate’s Inn & Restaurant. Renovated in 1949 and 1995, it stands today to remind us of another way of life.

Strom's Drug Store on Main Street in McCormick still offers a complete turn-of-the-century soda fountain with ice-cream cones, floats and old fashioned Cherry Cokes.

Other buildings of McCormick’s golden heritage were not so lucky. A disastrous fire in 1884 razed two business blocks. Two other fires in 1910 and 1927 further slowed the town’s progress. Today with the opportunities before us, the commercial district is being restored to its early 1900s appearance with the aid of SC Archives & History, The town of McCormick, McCormick County, the McCormick County Chamber of Commerce, and private investors with guidance from the SC Downtown Development Association.

Downtown McCormick, South Carolina

Established in Abbeville County as Dorn's Gold Mines, the town was granted a U.S. Post Office on April 5, 1857, and its first Postmaster was Mr. James Dorn. On February 23, 1882, it was officially renamed to McCormick. In 1916, McCormick County was created from Abbeville, Edgefield, and Greenwood counties, and the town of McCormick was named the County Seat. Its Post Office has been in continuous operation ever since inception in 1857.

Click Here to view / download a 2017 map of McCormick, SC. Adobe PDF file. Fairly large.

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