Historic Brattonsville now part of Reconstruction Era National Historic Network
For Immediate Release:
April 5, 2022
Community Relations Coordinator
Culture & Heritage Museums
Culture & Heritage Museums’ new exhibit leads to Historic Brattonsville’s inclusion in the National Park Service’s Reconstruction Era National Historic Network
McCONNELLS, S.C. - Culture & Heritage Museums announces that Historic Brattonsville is officially a member of the Reconstruction Era National Historic Network. According to the National Park Service, the Reconstruction Era National Historic Network “connects sites across the country who provide education, interpretation and research related to the period of Reconstruction.” The network is managed by Reconstruction Era National Historical Park and includes sites and programs that are affiliated with the Reconstruction Era, but not necessarily managed by the National Park Service.
In a press release dated March 31, 2022, the National Park Service announced that Historic Brattonsville is one of four new South Carolina sites added to the Reconstruction Era National Historic Network. The other sites, all located in Beaufort, are First African Baptist Church, Tabernacle Baptist Church, and The Robert Smalls House. Learn more about the NPS Reconstruction Era National Historic Network at their website: nps.gov/subjects/reconstruction/network.
Zach Lemhouse, historian for Culture & Heritage Museums, researched and organized the resources for the NPS program. Lemhouse says “Historic Brattonsville has a nationally significant Reconstruction Era story to tell. Our newest exhibit, Liberty and Resistance: Reconstruction and the African American Community at Brattonsville, and our recent induction into the Reconstruction Era National Historic Network will allow us to share this important story with a wider audience.” In May 2021, as preparations were underway for the “Liberty & Resistance” exhibit and its story on freedom seeker James Williams, Historic Brattonsville was accepted in the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program.
As an affiliated site, Historic Brattonsville will be included in educational materials and digital media to be developed by the National Park Service network. Affiliation also provides opportunities to collaborate with the network on Reconstruction Era related research and programming.
- Descendants of James Williams preview Historic Brattonsville’s new exhibit “Liberty & Resistance: Reconstruction and the African American Community at Brattonsville 1865-1877.” The exhibit prominently features the story of Williams as a civil rights leader. Photo taken in Nov. 2021 by Culture & Heritage Museums’ staff.
- The Brick House at Historic Brattonsville has been restored to its 1871 appearance and includes two new exhibits in each of its front rooms. Photo taken in Jan. 2021 by Culture & Heritage Museums’ staff.
Contact Marie Cheek for high resolution images.
Historic Brattonsville is located at 1444 Brattonsville Rd., McConnells, S.C. 29726
General Hours of Operation: Tues. - Sat. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sun.1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Closed on Mondays & Holidays. It is recommended that visitors check website for special hours, up to date information other potential changes at chmuseums.org
About the new exhibit -- Liberty & Resistance: Reconstruction and the African American Community at Brattonsville 1865-1877
In November 2021, Historic Brattonsville opened its newest exhibit “Liberty & Resistance: Reconstruction and the African American Community at Brattonsville 1865-1877.” Installed in the site’s recently restored 179-year-old Brick House, along with the recreation of the Bratton General Store, which is outfitted based on records and receipts circa 1871, the exhibition represents a part of Brattonsville’s history that has not been a major part of the site’s interpretation until now. The exhibits were made possible through the support of South Carolina Humanities.
“Liberty & Resistance” details the tumultuous times in York County following the Civil War. Unfolding a significant chapter in the history of Civil Rights in America, the exhibit prominently looks at the legacy of James Williams, an African American formerly enslaved on the Bratton Plantation who became a regional civil rights leader after emancipation. Williams’ heroic efforts cost him his life at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan in March 1871. Due to the sensitive nature of the story the new exhibit tells, Culture & Heritage Museums collaborated with descendants of James Williams for vetting and approval. Along with the Williams’ family, Historic Brattonsville’s Community Advisory Group on African American Programming, representatives from South Carolina African American Heritage Commission, Bratton family descendants, and academic advisors were engaged in authenticating the exhibit’s narrative.
In 1971, the Brick House, as well as other Bratton houses, were officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Brattonsville Historic District. Culture & Heritage Museums became stewards of the Brick House in 2001 and completed the current phase of preservation in January 2021.
Since the public opening of Historic Brattonsville’s Brick House in Nov. 2021, the site’s educational programming team has been presenting a wide range of new programs and special events that interpret York County’s Reconstruction Era stories. With the National Park Services’s recent confirmation of inclusion in the Reconstruction Era National Historic Network, Historic Brattonsville looks forward to collaborative projects that will present Culture & Heritage Museums’ ongoing body of educational materials and research to audiences nationwide.
About Historic Brattonsville:
Historic Brattonsville features historic houses and structures built over the course of three generations of the Bratton family and the enslaved community. The plantation spreads over 800 acres and includes farmed land with heritage breed animals, a Revolutionary War battlefield with interpretive trail, and a nature preserve with miles of walking trails. Seasonal events, reenactments, and living history programs interpret what life was like in the Carolina Piedmont during the 18th and 19th century.
Historic Brattonsville is included in “The Green Book of South Carolina” - a travel guide to significant African American heritage and cultural destinations across the state. Learn more: https://greenbookofsc.com/locations/historic-brattonsville/
About Culture & Heritage Museums:
Culture & Heritage Museums is a family of museums in York County: Historic Brattonsville in McConnells, the McCelvey Center, which includes the Historical Center, in York, and the Museum of York County and Main Street Children's Museum in Rock Hill. CHM is a Smithsonian Affiliate and is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. According to AAM, accreditation is “the ultimate mark of distinction in the museum field” and “signifies excellence and credibility to the entire museum community, to governments and outside agencies and to the museum-going public.” In South Carolina, there are only twelve museums or museum systems that have achieved this distinction.