Sumter is a city in Sumter County, South Carolina. During the Civil War, the town was an important supply center for the Confederacy. After the war, Sumter prospered and grew, as its large railroad network supplied the country with cotton, timber, and by the start of the 20th century, tobacco. The charming historic old town is the witness of Sumter’s illustrious history. Swan Lake Iris Gardens was established in 1927 as a private fishing lake. It is today a beautiful garden with a range of blooming plants and rich wildlife. The historic Sumter Opera House is the focal point of the city downtown and a center for the performing arts. Located in a beautiful Edwardian mansion, the Sumter County Museum is great place to learn Sumter’s history. The Sumter Gallery of Art is a non-profit community organization that presents and promotes the visual arts and provides art education to Sumter and neighboring communities. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.Swan Lake Iris Gardens
Swan Lake Iris Gardens was established in Sumter, South Carolina in 1927 as a private fishing lake for rich local businessman Hamilton Carr Bland. At the same time he started landscaping the garden around his house with Japanese Iris flowers. The irises did not like the soil in the garden but thrived in the swampy area near the lake. Today the garden also has camellias, azaleas, day lilies and magnolias with something in full bloom at any time of the year. The lake is full of small colorful islands and is rich in wildlife. It is the only public park in the States with all eight species of swans. The garden is the site of several annual festivals.
822 W Liberty St, Sumter, SC 29150, Phone: 803-436-2640
2.Sumter Opera House, Sumter, South Carolina
© Sumter Opera House
An architectural crown jewel of Sumter, South Carolina, the historic Sumter Opera House is the focal point of the city downtown and a center for the performing arts. The Opera House has several programs and special performances throughout the year, from film and dance to theater and concerts. The historic building that houses Sumter Opera House was completed in 1895 and has served at different times as a music academy, city offices, barber shop, a movie theatre, a meat market and even a jail. Today the building is still home to the City Hall, many city departments, City Council chambers and the Sumter Opera House. The Opera House is again offering a performance series, contributing to downtown revitalization. The theater has 550 seats, excellent acoustics and a magnificent proscenium with Art Deco gold-leaf decorations.
21 N Main St, Sumter, SC 29150, Phone: 803-436-2616
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3.The Sumter County Museum, Sumter, South Carolina
© The Sumter County Museum
Located in a beautiful Edwardian mansion, the Sumter County Museum is a private non-profit organization with a mission to promote the history of Old Sumter District. The museum offers exhibition of relevant objects, manuscripts and documents, which tell the story of this part of South Carolina. The museum also includes the 1916 Williams-Brice House, the Heritage Education Center built in 2003, the Carolina Backcountry Homestead, and the Temple Sinai Jewish History Center. The museum organizes annual historic re-enactments in the log cabin complex. The Ross S. McKenzie Hall and Martha Brice Gardens are available for rent by cultural, historical, and civic organizations for receptions and gatherings.
122 N Washington St, Sumter, SC 29150, Phone: 803-775-0908
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4.Sumter Gallery of Art, Sumter, South Carolina
© Sumter Gallery of Art
Located in the Science Wing of the former Edmunds/Sumter High next to Patriot Hall and the Sumter Little Theater in Sumter, South Carolina, The Sumter Gallery of Art is a non-profit community organization that presents and promotes the visual arts and provides art education to Sumter and neighboring communities. The gallery offers rotating shows of traditional and modern art by artists recognized locally, regionally or nationally. All media is represented – from photography, oils and water color to fabric, clay and popsicle sticks. The gallery also offers art classes for children ages 4 to17 and adults, a permanent exhibition of works by the late regional artist Elizabeth White and a nice gift shop.
200 Hasel St, Sumter, SC 29150, Phone: 803-775-0543
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5.Temple Sinai, Sumter, South Carolina
© Monkey Business/stock.adobe.com
Opened in 1912, Temple Sinai is an historic Reform synagogue in Sumter, South Carolina. . It is also known as Congregation Sinai and the Sumter Society of Israelites. Congregation Sinai was formed in April, 1895 and had a small wooden sanctuary. The existing synagogue was constructed on the same site of brick, in the Moorish Revival style. The Barnett Memorial Addition, a brick Moorish Revival auditorium/ and banquet hall and classroom and office building was built in 1932 and is located behind the sanctuary. Temple Sinai is noted for the eleven stained glass windows which depict scenes from the Tanakh. The temple is still an active reform congregation. Temple Sinai was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
15 Church St, Sumter, SC 29150, Phone: 803-773-2122
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6.Mt Olive African Methodist Episcopal Church, Sumter, South Carolina
© Mt Olive African Methodist Episcopal Church
Initially, poorly paid local farm workers were meeting for worship service under “the bush harbor, ” lacking the proper church. The devout folks got united and started making plans for a proper place of worship. In September 1870, a few members of the group were deeded from Mr. R.L. Heriot one acre of land located at Heriot’s Crossroads, the present day location of the village of Woodrow. They immediately met with the others under the bush harbor and on September 9, 1870, organized a church to be known as “Mount Olive African Methodist Episcopal Church.” The church was remodeled several times as the congregation grew and was rebuilt in 1961. The new wing was added in 1981. The New Mt. Olive to replace the original one was dedicated in 2000. The seating in the sanctuary and choir loft were doubled; there are now six classrooms, a conference room, administrative office, pastor’s study, a commercial grade kitchen and spacious fellowship hall. A towering steeple was added as well.
2738 Woodrow Rd, Sumter, SC 29153, Phone: 803-428-6662
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6 Best Things to Do in Sumter, South Carolina
- Swan Lake Iris Gardens, Photo: sornram/stock.adobe.com
- Sumter Opera House, Sumter, South Carolina, Photo: Sumter Opera House
- The Sumter County Museum, Sumter, South Carolina, Photo: The Sumter County Museum
- Sumter Gallery of Art, Sumter, South Carolina, Photo: Sumter Gallery of Art
- Temple Sinai, Sumter, South Carolina, Photo: Monkey Business/stock.adobe.com
- Mt Olive African Methodist Episcopal Church, Sumter, South Carolina, Photo: Mt Olive African Methodist Episcopal Church
- Cover Photo: City of Sumter, South Carolina
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