Historic Aiken Co. building in jeopardy of demolition

A historic building in Aiken County is on the verge of being destroyed. (WRDW-TV)
A historic building in Aiken County is on the verge of being destroyed. (WRDW-TV)
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News 12 at 11 o'clock / Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012

KITCHINGS MILLS, S.C. -- It's a building most people drive by without ever thinking twice, but the white building with green shingles that overlooks Surrey Race Road outside of Salley is actually a piece of history.

"From what I understand, it was the first public library in Aiken County. Being out here in the country, books probably weren't available, so I'm sure it was a real important part of the community," said Claire Ramey, who lives near the building.

But as Ramey recently found out, the building is in jeopardy. She says the building was being used as a home until recently. Now, the property it sits on is scheduled to be sold, and the old library building will be demolished, possibly on the first of December.

"Once it's gone, we can't replace. We can't bring it back, so it would be great to keep it," Ramey said.

Elliott Levy, executive director of the Aiken County Historical Museum, also knows about the building. He says it would be sad if it's bulldozed in the future. He says it sits in an area of Aiken County known as Kitchings Mill.

"Well, the mill was so busy and bringing in money and made an affluent area," he said of the area.

But for all that is know, so much more isn't known. Levy says there are no known photographs of the library building being used as an actual library. Actually, historians don't even know the plight of Kitchens Mill. Levy says they don't know what led to the disappearance of what was once a thriving mill town.

"Find those photographs, dig them out, find out where they are, talk to the people that have ties there," Levy said. "It's going to take people to get together and say, 'We can do this thing, and we want to do this thing. We want to save this.'"

Ramey says neighbors have already started researching to save the library, which is possibly an important piece of their heritage.

Levy says one plan would be to move the library to downtown Aiken and display it next to the current county library. He says it would cost about $20,000 to do that though. He says if neighbors are able to research the building and learn more about its history, there are a number of grants they can apply for.

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