Jamestown listed on National Register of Historic Places
FLORENCE, S.C. – Jamestown Foundation Director Terry James said the Reconstruction-era site is now recognized on the National Register of Historic Places. The foundation and its supporters have been working off and on the last 10 years for the contributions of Jamestown’s founder, freed slave Ervin James, to be widely recognized.
According to the National Park Service, the Jamestown Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on Oct. 25.
Ervin James established the Jamestown community in 1870 off Old Marion Highway in Florence. He purchased the property from two white landowners, which was a risky deal for all involved. But the land grew to become a haven and a thriving community for African-Americans.
The Jamestown property currently contains the James cemetery and a Reconstruction-era cabin that belonged to Tony and Jan James. Ervin James’ descendants also host the annual Come Celebrate Jamestown reunion on the property each year. The reunion honors Ervin James’ legacy and educates attendees on how people lived during that period.
Terry James said having Jamestown recognized on the National Register of Historic Places means a lot.
“It lets you know that the accomplishments of those who were enslaved is worthy of recognition,” Terry James said.
He thinks being listed on the register could also help Jamestown receive more local, state and federal funding.
The Jamestown Foundation’s next goal is to restore the last standing cabin on the property. Terry James said it will cost about $150,000 to completely restore the cabin.
“We want to get it back to excellent condition to do interpretation and living history events. And we’re asking the public to give as much as you can,” Terry James said. “It’s important to save that last structure because it is a representation of the Reconstruction era. So we want to save it for that purpose and it’s very important to Jamestown and telling the story of Jamestown. “
In 2020, Jamestown will have been in existence for 150 years, and James said the foundation will celebrate African-American history, heritage and culture that year. The foundation’s fundraising goal for 2020 is $150,000 so that the cabin can be restored, among other things.
The Jamestown Foundation is seeking grants and support from corporate and private donors. Donations can be made to the Jamestown Foundation at any local Synovus Bank.
Terry James said Jamestown is one of the Pee Dee’s treasures and is one of only two African-American properties that he knows to be included on the National Register of Historic Places. The other is the Mt. Zion Rosenwald School in Florence, he said.