Triple Crown of History celebrates birthday, restoration of Gaston Livery Stable
The Gaston Livery Stable was in danger of being demolished in 2011 when an organization was formed to purchase, protect and restore the historic structure in Aiken.
On Saturday, the Friends of the Gaston Livery Stable invited the public to stop by and see all the work that has been done since then during a celebration known as the Triple Crown of History.
“This is an awesome day,” said Friends President Coleen Reed. “People are coming here to learn about the history of Aiken and to learn about this barn, which is super special.”
The 12,000-square-foot stable is U-shaped and made of brick. Based on Reed’s research, only two others like it still exist in this country.
Volunteers have restored the barn’s carriage lift and it now is fully operational. They also have replaced dormers, laid bricks, refurbished windows and completed numerous other tasks while donating more than 18,500 hours of their time.
Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon described their efforts as “amazing.”
The Triple Crown featured three events.
There was a Blue & Gray Veterans’ Reunion Breakfast with reenactors dressed as Confederate and Union soldiers.
Friends Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Elliott Levy, who portrayed Union Brigadier General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, cooked eggs over a fire.
The planned carriage parade was canceled because recent rains had made the dirt roads on its route unsafe for the vehicles, Reed said.
But accompanied by coachman Vance Coulthard, Sarah Taylor drove her vis-a-vis carriage around the Gaston Livery Stable’s grounds and offered rides to Triple Crown of History attendees.
Toby, a white Percheron/pony cross, pulled the vehicle and stood patiently while waiting for passengers to get on and off.
At noon, the Friends observed the 125th anniversary of the Gaston Livery Stable’s construction even though nobody knows its exact date. David W. Gaston Sr. built the barn circa 1893.
Birthday cake was served, the Friends held a brief annual meeting and volunteers were recognized. In addition to Osbon, Aiken City Manager Stuart Bedenbaugh, Aiken City Councilman Dick Dewar and Aiken County Council Chairman Gary Bunker participated in the festivities.
One of the volunteers honored was former Aiken City Councilman Reggie Ebner.
“I know we aren’t supposed to call people angels, but we have angels amongst us. They do walk on this earth,” said Reed while thanking Ebner and his colleagues for their free labor.
In addition to the featured Triple Crown events offered, four human and four equine members of the recently formed Aiken Volunteer Mounted Unit made an appearance.
There also was a silent auction fundraiser for the Gaston Livery Stable that offered 13 fiberglass kittens painted by local artists.
April and Jesse Walters came to the Triple Crown of History with their sons, William, 9, and Jackson, 6.
“Our family rides and goes fox hunting, and we wanted to expose our boys to this part of equine culture,” April said. “We went on a carriage ride, and that was fun. We also got a tour of the stable, and it was nice to learn about the history. The boys got to raise the carriage lift, so they had a good time.”
For more information about the Friends of the Gaston Livery Stable and the Gaston Livery Stable, visit gastonliverystable.org.