SUMTER COUNTY, SC (WIS) - When you first see The Ruins historic home in Sumter County, the first thing that comes to mind is how nice it would be to sit on the porch.
This Saturday, Col. Rett and Pat Summerville invite you to do so. No, Col. Summerville's name is not misspelled: his mother loved all things Southern but wanted his name to be unique.
The 1784 home is on the National Register of Historic Places and part of the Stateburg Historic District designated by the South Carolina Department of Archives and History.
Volunteers from the Historic Columbia Foundation and others dedicated to preserving historic sites in the Stateburg area have decorated the mansion in antebellum-period Christmas style. Docents in period costumes will guide guests through the rooms.
"This is our third year of hosting this open house and we couldn't do it without these dedicated volunteers," Pat Summerville said. Harriet Jackson, Judy Liner, Carl DuBose and Carol-Anne Bostic and others have spent hours getting the home ready for guests. Other volunteers include Janice Bowman, Pat Itter, Dena Creel, Ellen Hayhurst, and Peggy Culler-Hair.
The dining room table, built in Camden, is set with food created by longtime Historic Columbia Foundation volunteer Elizabeth Wyckoff, now deceased.
Last year more than 600 guests toured the home.
It's original owner, Revolutionary War hero John Mayrant, bought the property from fellow war hero General Thomas Sumter and was the first to plant cotton in the region. The cotton fields are long gone but what became of Mayrant's original cabin remains, remarkably preserved.
A longtime resident of the home who sold it to the Summervilles, Mrs. Amelia DeSaussure Barnwell Harper, will be there to tell guests about her memories living there.
Upon retiring from the U.S. Air Force, Col. Summerville and his wife worked to collect and return some of the home's original furnishings, including a circa 1838 sideboard built by noted furniture maker Anthony Quervelle. The piece was original to the home, but it had been sold in the early 1980's. Summerville tracked down the owner of the massive piece, who was willing to part with it since he couldn't fit it through his door.
Summerville has always had a respect for historic sites since his boyhood home was the Nathan Moore House in Oak Park, IL, designed in 1895 by Frank Lloyd Wright.
"The surrounding land of the Ruins has been put into a conservancy to protect it for the future," said Pat.
The Summervilles also have a small museum of tools and other items found on the site.
Other events include Revolutionary War-era demonstrations from Frank Holloway, who fires a period replica mortar, hayrides, and a display of other historic sites in Stateburg.
The Ruins site is at 1257 Barnwell Drive in Stateburg, about 1/2 mile off Highway 261 from 378. The Open House is from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free but donations will be accepted for historic preservation projects.