A For Sale sign hanging on the front of the Nettles Hotel on Main Street in Kingstree beckons a potential buyer. The sign also announces the presence of The Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the irreplaceable architectural heritage of South Carolina.
Opened in 1911 by Samuel A. Nettles, the interior still maintains its original pressed tin roof and faux painted doors. However, the exterior paints a different story. Perched above three separate window fronts, a nondescript whitewashed brick façade hides the balcony of the former hotel. “When it was rehabbed later it is so plain that even in the historic district, its listed as non-contributing because it was assumed it had nothing to contribute,” said Palmetto Trust Executive Director Michael Bedenbaugh.
Bedenbaugh was referring to the South Carolina Historic Preservation Office who oversees the administration of National Registered Districts in the state. “Well, we’re going to change their minds about that.” Bedenbaugh has since met with a SCPO official who he says is a former Williamsburg County resident. “He was shocked that the hotel was still there,” said Beden-baugh. “Like everybody else, it’s this big, ugly brick façade but this building still has its story to tell.”
Bedenbaugh was first introduced to Kingstree’s historical district through former Town Manager Roosevelt Henegan. Prior to his position in Kingstree, Henegan served on Bennettsville City Council and was the Director of Bennettsville Downtown Development Association. While there, Henegan built a relationship with the Trust and with preservation developers to redevelop its downtown area.
Bedenbaugh located several properties in Kingstree, with one in particular being the former Belk building on Hampton Street. Though the county has since acquired the building, Bedenbaugh has deepened his interest in saving vulnerable buildings of historical significance, which in turn has led him to the hotel. “When a building is restored, it contributes to the community in a positive way,” said Bedenbaugh. He also recognizes the efforts of the town that will enhance the property’s viability. “When I realized the potential of the hotel, along with the opportunities that the town has afforded with the revitalization of the Depot across from it, I knew the timing was right,” said Bedenbaugh who is working with a local bank to find a preservation buyer.
Bedenbaugh sees the property as a piece of history that still has a story to tell. “When that brick façade comes off and that balcony comes back to life, where people are able to stand on it and look down at the train depot and the new restaurant where they’re going to eat that night, it will create something that will reverberate throughout the rest of the community.”
Palmetto Trust has also acquired a property located at the corner of Academy and Jackson Streets. Charles W. Wolf, as it is known built the Wolf House, in the early 1900s. In 1898 Wolf purchased the County Record (later The News) newspaper where he was also editor.
For the last 16 years, The Palmetto Trust has recognized exceptional accomplishments in historical preservation, rehabilitation, restoration and interpretation of South Carolina’s architectural and cultural heritage with its annual Preservation Awards. For further information about The Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation visit www.palmettotrust.org or call 1-803-896-6234. In addition, Mr. Bedenbaugh requests that anyone who may have stayed at the hotel or has knowledge about the building and its construction please contact the Palmetto Trust.