For Immediate Release:

July 26, 2022


Marie Cheek

Community Relations Coordinator

Culture & Heritage Museums


Culture & Heritage Museums receives state Stewardship Award for the restoration of the Brick House at Historic Brattonsville

McCONNELLS, S.C. – The South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Preservation South Carolina, and the Office of the Governor presented Culture & Heritage Museums a Stewardship Award on July 13 at the S.C. State House. As described on Preservation South Carolina’s website, “a series of statewide awards are presented every year in recognition of exceptional accomplishments in the preservation, rehabilitation, and interpretation of architectural and cultural heritage work that preserves the state’s legacy.” The Stewardship Award honors Culture & Heritage Museums’ outstanding commitment to the long-term care and ongoing preservation of the Brick House, one of the original structures at Historic Brattonsville.

Completed in 1843, the Brick House reflects the transitional Early Classical Revival architecture of the nineteenth century and served as a variety of domestic, civic, and commercial purposes in the Brattonsville community. The two-story house was purchased from the Bratton estate in 1962 by Judge Samuel B. Mendenhall, whose family sold it to Culture & Heritage Museums in 2001. CHM began the initial phase of the structure’s stabilization and long-term preservation in 2013. In 2015, a formal plan was devised to restore the Brick House to how it looked in 1871 to interpret the Reconstruction Era in York County.

Along with the ongoing conservation strategies of historic properties at Brattonsville, Culture & Heritage Museums continues the interpretive research that unfolds forgotten chapters of York County’s past. As the first phase of restoration work of the Brick House finalized in Feb. 2021, preparations were underway to tell its story of one of the plantation’s freedom seekers. In May 2021, Historic Brattonsville was accepted to the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program.

The Brick House made its inaugural opening to the public on Nov. 23, 2021 with the new exhibit “Liberty & Resistance: Reconstruction and the African American Community at Brattonsville 1865-1877” and the recreation of the Bratton General Store installed in the front rooms of the building. The exhibits, which were supported in part by a Major Grant from South Carolina Humanities, tell the story of Capt. James Williams, a South Carolina civil rights leader who was formerly enslaved on the Bratton Plantation. In authenticating the exhibits’ narrative, CHM teamed up with local historians, scholars, and descendants from Brattonsville’s enslaved community, including the family of Williams.  In April 2022, the restoration project’s exhibits led to the site’s inclusion in the National Park Service’s Reconstruction Era National Historic Network.

In response to the 2022 Stewardship Award, Joseph Mester, Historic Brattonsville’s assistant manager and preservationist, expressed “To be recognized by state leaders and preservation professionals for the stewardship of the built heritage under our care is a true complement to our efforts.  It encourages us to continue our work to safeguard the irreplaceable at Historic Brattonsville for current and future generations to learn the stories of the past in the place where it happened.”


    1. At the statehouse in Columbia on July 13, 2022, Culture & Heritage Museums receives the Stewardship Award for restoration of Historic Brattonsville’s Brick House. Pictured from left to right are Preservation South Carolina’s Joanna Rothell, CHM Historian Zach Lemhouse, CHM Preservationist and Historic Brattonsville Assistant Manager Joseph Mester, Governor Henry McMaster with Mrs. McMaster. Image courtesy of Preservation South Carolina.

    1. The Brick House at Historic Brattonsville photographed upon completion of the first phase of restoration in Feb. 2021. Image courtesy of Culture & Heritage Museums.

    1. On Nov. 19, 2021, descendants of James Williams preview the exhibit “Liberty & Resistance: Reconstruction and the African American Community at Brattonsville 1865-1877,” which was installed in the Brick House once restoration work was complete. Image courtesy of Culture & Heritage Museums.

For high resolution images, contact Marie Cheek at