BY BRUCE BRANUM
The Greenville Standard
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Wilcox Historical Society (WHS) postponed the 2020 Tour of Homes in Camden. The event has been rescheduled for March 26 – 27. If you purchased a ticket to the canceled Pilgrimage in 2020, it will be honored in 2021.
The tour weekend will begin with a welcome reception Friday evening at RiverBend Plantation beginning at 6 p.m. The special event will feature wine, hor d’oeuvres and guest speaker, Mr. James Farmer, noted Southern author and interior designer.
There will be no parking at RiverBend. Everyone must park in downtown Camden and check-in at the Female Institute. Shuttle buses will provide transportation to and from the reception.
Saturday morning, ticket holders are invited to a complimentary breakfast at Brittany House Antiques in Oak Hill from 8:30 – 10 a.m.
Afterwards ticket holders will be able to tour seven historic Camden homes, two churches, and other downtown sites.
Historic sites listed for the tour include: Yaupon – the Mathews-Tait-Rutherford House, circa 1840; River Bluff – the Beck-Bryant-Talbot House, circa 1840s; the Beck-Darwin-Coats House, circa 1846; the Strother-Gibbs House, circa 1900; House on the Hill – the Liddell-Phillippi Home, circa 1834; and Liberty Hall – the McDowell-Harris home (hall and formal rooms only).
The Camden Associated Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARP) will also be open for tour. The building of the ARP church is almost four decades older than the church founding. The ARP congregation was organized in 1890 and they purchased an antebellum building, constructed in 1849, from the dwindling congregation of the Camden Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
Other historic sites on tour are the Old Shoe Shop Museum; the Beck-Miller Law Office, circa 1840s; the Old Wilcox County Jail, constructed 1889; Tour and WHS headquarters; the Wilcox Female Institute constructed in 1849; and Dale Lodge No. 25, constructed in 1848.
WHS has added two historic sites to their Tour of Homes. The first addition is Pleasant Ridge, circa 1844. This tall-columned “big house” is not only the last extant brick antebellum house in Wilcox County, but also one of less than a dozen brick homes of the period to survive in the Black Belt.
They have also added the historic Antioch Baptist Church. Opened in 1885, it is one of the oldest African-American churches in Wilcox County and was a crossroads of the civil rights movement. In fact, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at the church twice in 1965.
Tickets are still available Eventbrite.com and locally at The Pecan on Broad, Black Belt Treasures in Camden, and Brittany House Antiques in Oak Hill. The cost for a ticket is $40.
In addition, the Inaugural Pilgrimage Ball, sponsored by the Furman Historical Society, will be held at Wakefield in Furman, Saturday night, March 27.
Dancing will begin at 7:30 p.m. and the magnificent home will be open to tour as well. Formal attire or period civilian dress requested.
All proceeds of this special event will go toward the restoration of the antebellum General Store and Post Office Buildings in downtown Furman.
Tickets to the First Annual Benefit Ball are available exclusively at eventbrite.com and cost $75. For more information, please contact 256-975-7616 or visit wilcoxhistoricalsociety.org.
Strict COVID protocols will be followed. Everyone will have a temperature check upon arrival, masks must be worn properly indoors at all times, and admittance to homes will be in small groups.
There will be sanitization stations at each site as well. It is their primary goal to keep everyone safe during the tour.