Robert Johnson, Royal Governor of South Carolina in 1730, hatched a plan to develop this area that included the site of Kingston on a river bluff. By 1735 the first settlers had arrived. When the American Revolution exploded, numerous residents took up the cause of independence including Francis Marion, the “Swamp Fox,” who had an encampment near Kingston just across the Waccamaw River.
After the war new political boundaries were drawn and in 1785 Kingston County was created. The county name was changed in 1801 to honor Peter Horry who had stood alone from King George in the battle for freedom. Kingston’s name was soon to change as well - it became Conwayborough for General Robert Conway. It was designated the county seat and a courthouse constructed. Regardless, growth came slowly. The town greeted the new 19th century with about 100 inhabitants and an 1832 state geographical survey identified only 200 townsfolk.
Real growth didn’t come to Conway (the town’s name was shortened in 1883) until after the Civil War when lumber and naval stores were developed along the Waccamaw River. Riverboats plied the waters swapping passengers and goods between the town and Georgetown on the coast. In 1887 the railroad reached Conway.
Most of the early frame buildings in town were burned and destroyed by a major fire in the 1890s. These were gradually replaced by brick buildings erected until 1940, most of which exist today. The Conway Downtown Historic District has not changed significantly since 1940. Our walking tour of South Carolina’s Rivertown, draped in ancient oak trees, begins at the black water of the Waccamaw River...
Second Avenue and Main Street
Conway’s Riverwalk features an 850-foot boardwalk that invites a leisurely stroll for a scenic view of its oldest landmark, the meandering Waccamaw River. In addition to the dark blackwater river the trail trips past rustic wooden buildings and reaches at the end an arboretum of indigenous trees and plants.
LEAVE THE PARK AT TURN RIGHT. FOLLOW THE ROAD AS IT BENDS TO THE LEFT AND BECOMES KINGSTON STREET.
C.P. Quattlebaum House
219 Kingston Street
Thomas Crowson was the first owner of this property, taking title in 1803. Anthony Pawley built the first house here in 1807. Among its subsequent owners was Alexander Murrell, who operated the ferry across Kingston Lake. Its current appearance, with a two-tier wrap-around porch and posts with decorative carved wooden brackets, is attributed to Col. C.P. Quattlebaum who bought the house in 1887. Quattlebaum became the first mayor of Conwayborough in 1898.
Paul Quattlebaum House
225 Kingston Street
This house is known to have been occupied by Samuel Bell when he moved to Conwayborough around 1850. The house was bought by Paul Quattlebaum, a South Carolina state senator from Horry County, in the early 1900s and remodeled. After he left politics in 1944, Quattlebaum wrote The Land Called Chicora, a book dealing with the early Spanish exploration along the Carolina coast in 1526.
Kingston Presbyterian Church
Kingston Street at Third Avenue
The Kingston Presbyterian Church was founded in 1857 and the current church was built in 1858 on the site of a previous Presbyterian meetinghouse. The previous Presbyterian church had disbanded prior to 1795. The church building has been modified a couple times during its history. The adjacent cemetery which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places has graves dating back into the 1700s.
903 Third Avenue
This two-room building dates to 1860 and was used byColonel C.P. Quattlebaum when he came to Conwayborough in 1876 to practice law. The first banking facility in town was housed in the front office. The building originally stood on Main Street and was moved to its present site around 1900. It now serves as the town Visitor’s Center.
FOLLOW KINGSTON STREET BEHIND THE SHOPS AND CONTINUE ACROSS 4TH AVENUE, BEARING LEFT.
Beaty-Spivey House, the Oaks
428 Kingston Street
This home, circa 1869, is believed to have been constructed by a shipbuilder from Bucksport, Maine, who had come to this area before the war to build ships for Henry Buck. The house is a one-and-one half story, cross-gable roofed frame residence sheathed in weatherboard. Two corbeled, brick, interior ridge line chimneys pierce the roof and the house rests on a brick pier with brick infill foundation. The façade features a projecting gable with a half-story above and three-bay porch with four tapering, octagonal, freestanding posts and recessed porch at the first story. The house was constructed for Thomas Wilson Beaty and his wife Mary Brookman Beaty. Beaty was a partner in a naval stores firm, a delegate to the Secession Convention, state representative in 1864-1865, publisher and editor of the Horry Weekly News, and state senator. Doctor Allen Spivey and R.B. Scarborough bought the house from the Mary Beaty estate in 1902. Spivey was well known as president and director of the Peoples National Bank of Conway.
Horry County Museum & Wade Hampton Oak
438 Main Street at northeast corner of Fifth Avenue
Now home to the Horry County Museum, this building was originally a post office. It stands in what was once the front lawn of the Beaty-Spivey House. When these large live oaks were threatened by the construction of the railroad, Mrs. Mary Beaty appeared with a loaded shotgun and demanded that the construction workers “touch not a single bough.” This act helped to inspire the people of the town to actively protect live oaks throughout the town through the years. On the site of this oak General Wade Hampton addressed to the citizens of Horry County in 1876.
First Methodist Church
1000 Fifth Avenue
Methodist Bishop Francis Asbury visited Kingston many times between 1785 and 1815 and the First Methodist Church in Conwayborough was organized in 1828. This land was acquired in 1842 and the first of several houses of worship, a frame church building, was completed by 1844. It was replaced in 1898 by this second gothic style building. The third mission style church building was constructed in 1910. The present Georgian style sanctuary was built in 1961.
1106 Fifth Avenue
This Queen Anne style house, built in 1909, is a rare bird in Conway. It features a hipped roof intersected by several gabled bays. In 1998 it was moved from the southern corner of Fifth Avenue and Laurel Street to its present location.
RETRACE YOUR STEPS TO LAUREL STREET AND TURN LEFT.
509 Laurel Street
Built before 1870, this was at one time the Norton Drug Store on Main Street. The house was moved to its present location with a stump puller and a pair of mules in 1913. It was the parsonage for the Methodist church for several decades until it was acquired in 1943 and restored as a single family home.
511 Laurel Street
This 1910 late-Victorian style house was built by Dr. & Mrs. James A. Norton. Over the years many school teachers who came to Conway boarded here.
TURN RIGHT ON SIXTH AVENUE.
507 Main Street, southwest corner of Sixth Avenue
This two story, hip roofed, frame weather boarded house was built in 1858 for John R. Beaty by the Eaton brothers from Maine who had been hired to build ships at Bucksville. Beaty would soon be an officer in the Confederate army and his antebellum home was destined to be taken as headquarters for Union officers during the occupation of Conwayborough during the War Between The States.
TURN LEFT ON MAIN STREET.
601 Main Street
R.G. Sessions was the builder of this home, back in 1889. In 1907 H.H. Woodward purchased the house and it stayed in the family for more than a half-century.
606 Main Street at southeast corner of Lakeside Drive
Although Conwayborough had had an Academy since 1857, the school had a hard time collecting enough tuition to pay teachers and stay in business. Ambitious schoolmasters, even the Masons of the town, tried to run the school and gave it up. Enter Franklin Gorham Burroughs. Though he himself had scant education, Burroughs appreciated its worth. As his children reached school age, he took on the challenge of providing schooling for the whole community. The eventual Burroughs School was tuition funded, but the merchant and businessman undertook to guarantee salaries and other expenses should tuition fail to cover them fully. He constructed a new school building at this corner in 1877. The road beside it ran down toward the lake and his home at Snow Hill. The children drank water from the Peggy Ludlam Spring just down this road from the school. His lumber mill, established in 1874, was across the lake. The road was known as the Sawdust Road because sawdust from the mill was spread along it to help move logs from the Main Street down to Kingston Lake where they could be floated across to the mill. Franklin Burroughs directed the business affairs of the Burroughs School personally, hiring and firing staff and determining what should be taught. The school became known for its academic quality and necessitated a move down the street to a larger building in 1905. The original schoolhouse here burned to the ground in 1912. W.L. Bryan acquired the property and constructed this house shortly afterwards.
Burroughs Graded School
801 Main Street at southwest corner of Ninth Avenue
After moving from its original location, the Burroughs School was constructed in three phases between 1905 and 1923. Architect Henry Emil Bonitz of Wilmington, NC designed the earliest central portion of the building. About 1915 a two-story hipped classroom wing was added to the building, with features matching the 1905 building. In 1923 four classrooms and an auditorium with Neoclassical motifs, designed by Charles Coker Wilson of Columbia. This is the oldest remaining public school building in Horry County.
TURN LEFT ON NINTH AVENUE. TURN LEFT ON ELM STREET.
701 Elm Street
This imposing home, fronted by a quartet of Ionic columns, was built in 1929 by Colonel H.L. Buck. Buck was the son of Henry Buck who owned large plantations in Horry County along the Waccamaw River.
First Baptist Church
603 Elm Street
The First Baptist Church of Conway began with a congregation of only ten in 1866, meeting in a local schoolhouse. In 1876 a Sunday School was begun and that same year William Burroughs deeded to the church an acre of land on which a small wooden building was built. In the early 1900s the old wooden church was moved back and converted into a parsonage, and a brick church was erected and dedicated in 1911. The present sanctuary was completed and dedicated in 1951. Educational wings were added in 1939 and 1960.
Horry County Courthouse
1201 Third Avenue at southwest corner of Elm Street
In 1906 Col. D.A. Spivey introduced in the General Assembly the Act authorizing the construction of this building. The building committee was composed of C.P. Quattlebaum, John C. Spivey and John P. Durham. The formal opening was held in 1908, with Governor Martin F. Ansel as speaker. The building, crowned with an octagonal cupola topped by a finial with eagle weathervane, underwent renovation in 1937 and 1964. A portrait of Revolutionary War Colonel Peter Horry, for whom the county was named, hangs in the front hall, given by the local DAR chapter.
TURN LEFT ON THIRD AVENUE. TURN RIGHT ON MAIN STREET.
Conway City Hall
southwest corner of Main Street and Third Avenue
This building served as the Horry County Courthouse when it was constructed in 1824-1825 on plans from Robert Mills, South Carolina native and America’s first native-born professional architect. Mills gave the building, replacing an earlier courthouse on Fifth Avenue, 30-inch thick fireproof brick walls with vaulted record rooms of massive arched masonry. In 1908 the current courthouse was constructed and the historic building was acquired by the City of Conway for use as its City Hall.
Waccamaw River Warehouse Historic District
railroad at Main Street bridge
The Waccamaw River Warehouse Historic District includes three buildings constructed between 1880 and 1900. Two of the structures are located on the banks of the Waccamaw River; the third warehouse stands a short distance inland on the opposite side of the railroad tracks. These warehouses are significant both architecturally and as the last extant warehouses in Conway associated with the commercial trade on the Waccamaw River, as well as with the impact of the railroad on that trade, which was vital to the local economy and was responsible for the economic boom years from 1890 to 1930. The larger warehouse directly on the river was built circa 1880 as the terminal for the Waccamaw Line of Steamers operated by Burroughs & Collins, which ran on the river until 1919. The smaller warehouse approximately ninety feet upriver was built in 1890 as a warehouse and depot for the Conway Coast and Western Railroad, which was bought by the Atlantic Coast Railroad in 1912. The large trapezoid warehouse across the railroad and on the opposite side of Main Street from the river warehouses was built in 1900 as a tobacco warehouse for Burroughs & Collins and was subsequently used as a fertilizer and peanut warehouse.
Waccamaw River Memorial Bridge
Main Street at Waccamaw River
The Waccamaw River Memorial Bridge, constructed in 1937 and opened to the public in April 1938, stands as a splendid example of engineering techniques and architectural design used in the construction of South Carolina highway bridges during a period of remarkable growth in the state’s highway system. It is a multi-span continuous steel girder bridge made up of four steel girder main spans, four continuous steel string approach spans, and concrete piers which support the bridge deck. The entire bridge is 1270 feet long. Among its notable engineering and architectural features are its long vertical and horizontal curves, the use of 28 cast-iron light standards along the balustrade, and the Gothic-influenced pointed arches cut out of its concrete piers; the arches have been described as “a lavish treatment seldom seen in South Carolina bridges” in a 1993 bridge inventory project sponsored by the South Carolina Department of Highways and Public Transportation. The bridge was designated as a memorial to Horry County citizens who served in America’s wars from the American Revolution through the First World War. Constructed at a cost of $370,000, the bridge replaced an earlier one-lane bridge which had been the only bridge connecting Conway with the developing Grand Strand-Myrtle Beach area.
YOU HAVE NOW RETURNED TO THE TOUR STARTING POINT AT THE WACCAMAW RIVER.