Skip to main content

Voices. Knowledge. Solutions.

Excellence on Main Street Award

Outstanding Partnership
Hartsville’s EdVenture Children’s Museum

After first opening in Columbia in 2003, the EdVenture Children’s Museum received acclaim as one of the best children’s museums in the nation. In 2018 it expanded into Hartsville, thanks to a partnership that brought together groups including the City of Hartsville and nonprofit groups local to Hartsville, such as the Byerly Foundation.

The project, aimed at improving the community’s downtown core alongside bolstering the area’s opportunities for children, created a miniature version of Hartsville’s downtown, familiarizing children with the city and helping them grow as residents. Some features include a grocery store, the Sonoco Maker’s Space, where children learn the importance of recycling, as well as the Carolina Pines Regional Medical Center and ambulance.

Grants have allowed for decreased ticket pricing through the Yes, Every Child initiative. EdVenture has also obtained a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services for efforts to address community violence, including the creation of a Future Leaders Program at Hartsville Middle School. 

In the formative stage of the effort to bring EdVenture to Hartsville, initial organizers and Main Street Hartsville created an informal tea party to bring together interested women. The group emerging from this effort then organized a Ladies’ Night Out Fashion Show Fundraiser spotlighting downtown clothing and accessory boutiques. The show is now an annual event aimed at raising operational funds for EdVenture. 

The museum is housed in a 5,000-square-foot downtown building bought by the City of Hartsville. The city repaved the building’s parking lot, repaired the roof and pledged $100,000 every year for five years. The Byerly Foundation granted $500,000, and other nonprofits contributed as well. 

Contact Suzy Moyd at or 843.230.5837.


Inspiration Awards

Master Merchant – Michelle Compton, Laurens

In 2015, Michelle Compton bought a former bank building in downtown Laurens. She spent $25,000 to renovate the ground floor for the business she opened — the Vault Salon and Spa. She continued the rehabilitation work in 2017, completing a $40,000 renovation to the building’s second floor to make it usable for massage and pedicure rooms.

Beyond her own business, Compton has actively served on the Main Street Laurens committees for design, promotion and economic development. Concerned that no one but property owners and the Main Street Laurens staff knew about downtown properties available for sale or rent, she led an effort to create window signage advertising available buildings to promote development. The signs featured historic images of the building as well as ideas on what kind of businesses could open in the location, based on market analysis. Main Street Laurens reported that phone calls began soon after the first sign went up, and three new businesses have opened since. Compton also identified the need for an improved inventory of available locations and a map, so she helped create these resources. 

As part of the Main Street Laurens Design Team, Compton has worked to create life and visual interest for sidewalks and storefronts. Placing a newly painted old bicycle in front of her building, she now decorates it to match holiday seasons.

Compton also serves on the Promotion Team, working to plan and develop downtown events.  Finally Friday on the Square is a key example, an event of live music, extended shopping hours and dinner specials on the final Friday of every month from April to September. For this series, Compton has helped foster participation from her fellow business owners and has added family games. 

Contact Jonathan Irick at or 864.984.2119.

Outstanding Service – Nancy Cave, Manning

Although she is originally from Virginia, Nancy Cave adopted Clarendon County as her home after her late husband’s retirement, and has come to serve as a tireless advocate for the appreciation of her community’s history and its tourism efforts. As the retired archivist of the Clarendon County Archives and History Center and an original Design Committee member of Main Street Manning, Cave received the Manning Main Street Hero award in 2018.

As an archivist, she has provided a wealth of knowledge of the commercial district and the wider community for Main Street Manning. She served as an invaluable resource in providing historic images of downtown buildings for the architect who performs the design work for Main Street Manning’s façade grants. 

Cave has also contributed text for Manning’s self-guided historic district walking tour brochure. She has provided support for many Main Street Manning events, including helping with the research and organization of a historic residential district walking tour event. She served as co-chair for the project to bring the Smithsonian Institution’s travelling exhibit, Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America, to Manning. In addition to the Smithsonian, the effort required coordination with the SC Humanities Council and local committees.

Beyond her volunteer work for Main Street Manning, Cave volunteers with the Clarendon County Historical Society Museum, Francis Marion Living History Days and her church. 

Contact Carrie Trebil at or 803.435.8477. 

Outstanding Promotion – Orangeburg’s A Taste of the Market

A couple of years after establishing the Downtown Farmers Market, the Downtown Orangeburg Revitalization Association created A Taste of the Market, a farm-to-table four-course dinner spotlighting both the market and the downtown. This event is growing into a signature event for Orangeburg, helping to improve the visibility of downtown and interest in filling vacant storefronts. 

Featuring produce grown entirely in Orangeburg County, most of which is donated, the dinner also spotlights Orangeburg’s Edisto Memorial Gardens, which provides floral centerpieces.
The event is a ticketed event with sponsors. In 2018, the second year of the dinner, sponsorship doubled and ticket sales increased by 50 percent, providing DORA with funds to help it grow the farmers market. The dinner sold out within two weeks of tickets going on sale.

Several of the City of Orangeburg’s departments contributed to the success of the event, including the Public Works and Service Departments for the closure of the block of Russell Street that hosts the event. The Parks and Recreation Department provides the setup of tables and chairs, and the Department of Public Utilities assists with stringing lights across the street. 

The event also received help from local merchants, which provided the sound system and space for storage and prep space. A local theater opened its facility for restrooms, while cheerleaders from Orangeburg Preparatory School worked as servers. 

Contact Candice Roberson at or 803.531.6186.

Outstanding Special Project – Sumter’s Hyatt Place Hotel

With the Sumter Opera House, Prisma Health Tuomey Hospital, Shaw Air Force Base and Palmetto Tennis Center all drawing visitors to Sumter, the city’s downtown needed a hotel. After the city obtained and cleared a site across Main Street from the opera house, construction began and the Hyatt Place Hotel opened in April 2018. 

The immediate proximity to the opera house allows for package deals combining tickets to a show with a night spent at the hotel, and the hotel also benefits from being located within walking distance of the hospital. The hotel booked several conferences before it opened and has since hosted numerous weddings, family reunions and class reunions. 

In 2012, the City of Sumter acquired buildings on the hotel site that were in poor condition and considered to not have historic value. After demolishing these, the city established a temporary green space that also served as an event venue until the hotel could be built. The city also built a parking garage, funded with Tax Increment Financing money, as part of the effort to develop the hotel. The garage, which opened a few months before the hotel, serves hotel guests and provides free parking for other downtown visitors. 

As a high-visibility downtown investment, the Hyatt Place has demonstrated the potential the district has for other businesses. The existing Hamptons Restaurant relocated to a space adjacent to the hotel and will open another restaurant in its former location, while construction has begun on a downtown brewery. 

Contact Leigh Newman at or 803.436.2635.