FORT MILL The new Fort Mill History Museum opened on Thursday, showcasing 500 years of history from Spanish exploration to the present day.
“This is something that we are so proud to have,” said Rufus Sanders, chairman of the museum board. “Being able to share the history and pre-history of this town is something that’s been long awaited for.”
Sanders expects the facility, at 310 N. White St., will become a branding feature for the town.
“It’s exciting to see people getting excited,” said Elizabeth Ford, past chairwoman of the museum board.
The museum operated a temporary location on Main Street and has hosted artifact collection drives, a book signing and other events. Just last week, there was a recognition for several lifetime members honored by the museum.
After participating in its first Fort Mill Christmas Parade on Saturday, the group also has plans for a Winter Wonderland celebration early next year.
“It’s a labor of love,” Ford said. “It’s been a lot of work, but it’s been a labor of love all the way.”
Visiting the museum will be like “stepping into a timeline,” Sanders said, with items from the early mill days and drug stores. There will be a research library for people to study genealogy and a gift shop “for someone to shop for someone who has everything,” he said.
Several prominent people in the town’s past have rooms named for them. The museum also should be attractive, Sanders said, to people with little connection to the town’s past.
“They will appreciate where we are, and they will see the journey and the mission that we’re on,” he said.
Ford says some local residents have told her they’ve waited 60 years for such a place to celebrate Fort Mill’s history.
What museum leaders are finding is that the more history they share, the more there is still to uncover.
“All kinds of memories are coming to people,” Ford said. “We really need to start carrying a video camera around.”