Local group working to create African-American historic district in North Augusta

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Friday, November 8, 2019
News 12 at 6 o'clock/NBC at 7

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- A local group is working to create an African-American historic district in North Augusta.

It's part of an ongoing effort by the Heritage Council of North Augusta, along with local historians, to educate the community on the full history of the city.

One place already being considered for changes is Calhoun Park. The Meriwether monument sits in the park in front of Lookaway Hall. It’s dedicated to the one white man who lost his life in the Hamburg Massacre, even though six black men also died.

As a city committee decides what to do about the monument, there's a focus on honoring the historically African-American town of Carrsville inside North Augusta city limits.

Carrsville used to be the old settlement of Hamburg. Founded in 1821, Hamburg's remnants can still be seen in the River North neighborhood.

Following the Civil War, freed African-Americans made the town their home.

“There was a community of African American citizens that were operating as a functioning city in the deep south,” said Milledge Murray of the Heritage Council of North Augusta.

Murray says it was the town that came before North Augusta. But unrest, like the Hamburg Massacre, and constant flooding pushed the citizens from Hamburg to higher ground.

“If the flood washed away Hamburg in 1929, it didn't wash away the people. The people had to go somewhere," said Murray.

The residents all packed up their homes and moved to Carrsville.

“You have the church which was the central part. You know, the life, the soul of the community," said Wayne O'Bryant, a local historian.

O'Bryant and others want to preserve the Carrsville neighborhood as a historic district. In one of the original structures, they're considering building a museum honoring local African-American history.

“It's gonna be a place of education. You know multi-racial citizens, where we have tourists that come in and they want to come to a site. When they come, they'll be able to learn this deep rich history," said O’Bryant.

It’s a rich history many don't even know, O'Bryant said. Yet, James Brown's old studio and the First Providence Baptist Church--founded in 1860--are both within the Carrsville area.

"You have to take these histories that you had segregated and put them all together. And, all these things make up North Augusta's history," said O’Bryant.

The city of North Augusta is putting an application together to send to the state. If approved, an area bordered by East Buena Vista and Burnside Avenue would be deemed a historic district.

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