Saving Historic Warehouse

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor:

Over the years we have heard many splendid ideas come from our citizens on how we might make our community a little bit better. Some people desire an open-air market, like the one in Charleston, where the Saturday participants of the Farmer’s Market and other vendors can set up out of the weather. Others long for an exhibition hall where events like “juried arts competitions” and an “Arts on Fire” festival might be held. Then, there are individuals who have strongly suggested that this town needs a proper folk art museum, highlighting the talented local 2D and 3D artists who reside in our county, especially Southern potters. Therefore, why do we not have one central place to showcase the arts and artifacts that made this town what it is?

Keeping this in mind, we have recently become aware of the fact that a beautifully built two-story building, with 16-inch thick brick walls and in need of roof repair, is about to be torn down and lost forever. In only a few years, we could be celebrating the centennial anniversary of the largest cotton warehouse in our town. Built in 1919, the warehouse, right at the end of the rail trail, was constructed by Mr. W. W. Adams to help farmers store the mountains of cotton that poured into Edgefield from the surrounding countryside. Senator J. Strom Thurmond would have been just seventeen years old when he saw endless trains of wagons bringing their cotton in to be stored in this building that had the largest square footage of storage in town. Once there, the cotton was stored until it was loaded onto trains headed for Augusta and beyond.

Mr. Adams was such an enterprising man that he had a state-of-the-art sprinkler system installed in his warehouse to protect the stored cotton. It was bragged in The Edgefield Advertiser, on 15 November 1911, that “the Adams warehouse now has fire protection equal to any of the large cotton warehouses of the cities.” The first warehouse (now occupied by Piedmont Technical College) was built in 1907, but thirteen years later, Mr. Adams was experiencing space limitations. The Edgefield Advertiser, on 16 April 1919, reported that “Mr. W. W. Adams is doubling the capacity of his large warehouse near the station. Edgefield county farmers will have an abundance of storage room for their cotton next fall.”

It seems a sad affair to lose a building block of history when we might use it to build the future. Why not put a new roof on such a building and use it like the open air market in Charleston? Why shouldn’t we seek out grants to rebuild the second floor and showcase the relics and highlight the new arts of our community? Why not create a place where artists, vendors, and buyers can come rain or shine, from down town or from down the rail trail from the National Wild Turkey Federation? There are so many reasons that a building like this can be re-purposed. The warehouse should not only be saved from destruction, but it should also be put to good use.

When we think of history, we think of preservation. Moreover, when someone sees the sign stating “Historic Edgefield” up ahead, we hope that if they came all this way, they might find some actual history here. However, the only way you get to keep history is if you preserve it. That is why places like Charleston enacted preservation laws to keep every building older than 75 years from being torn down. We wish our historic town would follow Charleston’s lead and keep these buildings in use. By their use, they become loved and when they are loved, people make the effort to take care of them and that is all history really needs to keep going—for someone to take care of and preserve what is already there.


Max Shanks
Edgefield, S.C.

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