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Former slave cabin receives renovation funding

Published: Sep. 10, 2012 at 8:31 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 20, 2012 at 8:31 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - One of the last known slave cabins in South Carolina is getting a new lease on life and the Richland County Conservation Commission is financing the renovation.

The cabin's new owner, Jeremy Thomas, says he wants it to be an educational resource.

Thomas, an Englishman, obviously isn't from around here.

"I think you've got a fantastic state out here," Thomas said. "I've traveled all through the US and it's by far the only state I fancied moving to."

Thomas earned his South Carolina stripes when he bought Laurelwood Plantation and the nearby slave cabin. With a lot of help from the Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation, he's bringing it back to life.

"You've got an opportunity to save these buildings, but I guess in these economic times it's not in the forefront of people's minds. But once they're gone, they're gone. So it's really important that we save what's left," Thomas said.

The cabin was built for slaves in the 1850's. It later became a sharecropper's house and was a family home in the 60's.

Thomas wants kids to able to walk through the years inside.

"We've worked on historical properties, but nothing that required this amount of attention," said Grant McDonald with Belle Abby Builders.

McDonald is hammering the vision into reality and preserving everything he can.

"This was the gun rack from the sharecropper phase when someone was allowed to have a weapon," McDonald said.

No matter where you're from, Thomas hopes you get the same lift he does when walking through the door.

"There's no substitute for children learning their local history, and better than seeing it in a textbook is being able to touch and feel it, and see how these buildings came into existence," Thomas said.

Thomas hopes to have the cabin done in the next few weeks.

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