HARTSVILLE, S.C. — The old passenger train depot on Fourth Street in Hartsville is getting a facelift and a new purpose.
Brandy Stellingworth is moving Retrofit sip-n-seat from Mantissa Row to the historic building on Fourth Street.
Along with its new space, the establishment will receive a new name. When it reopens, it will be called The Station.
Stellingworth said she asked people on Facebook for name suggestions, and that one was the most popular.
Stellingworth said she wanted more space to add a kitchen with a stove and to be able to have space for catering private parties without having to close to the public.
A native of Lafayette, Louisiana, Stellingworth said she misses home and is looking forward to adding some Cajun food to the menu. She said there will be more food options in the new establishment, along with the selection of automatic draft beer and wine.
Retrofit offers a fun social environment filled with pieces of refurbished furniture and home accessories along with offering adult beverages and appetizers. On weekends Retrofit is likely to have entertainment and Saturday brunch.
Stellingworth said the furniture is intentionally arranged to entice people to sit, sip and have conversations. The furnishings are for sale, so they change periodically.
This will also be the case in the new space.
Stellingworth will still able to be a part of downtown with this new location.
“We are so lucky that Hartsville is wealthy in architectural assets, including the passenger station, and are so glad it is in Brandy’s capable and hard-working hands to rehabilitate and pour new love into an old building at the heart of our downtown,” said Suzy Moyd, the executive director of Main Street Hartsville.
Stellingworth said the front-room furniture will be arranged in “small vignettes” for socializing. The larger adjoining room will include areas for a bar and more.
“We are going to build a bar,” she said.
Unlike Retrofit, there will be an area in the back for catering private parties, Stellingworth said. Before, she would have to close to the public for private parties. Now the front rooms will remain open.
The back room will be called the “Caboose” and will open onto a patio for outdoor dining, Stellingworth said. She said the lighting will be replaced with a large chandelier.
The patio will be enclosed by a wall of green shrubs in between posts.
Stellingworth has been doing a lot of the work herself. She is painting and tearing out walls.
“I have a small budget,” she said. “I refinish my furniture.”
She said the floors and wood walls will remain.
“It’s a beautiful building,” she said.
A conference table and the desk that was left in the room — once the office of ALM Wiggins, the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad board chairman — will be kept and used.
Stellingworth said the lease on the current Retrofit location ends in October, and she will close it in mid-September to move her furnishing to the new location.
Stellingworth said she is not setting a time to open the new location and that there have already been delays.
Since the building is historic, Stellingworth is able to receive some funding for the restoration, as long as she keeps certain elements the same.
The building has a long history in Hartsville. The Hartsville Passenger Depot was built by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad in 1908. It served the town until 1940 when the ACL discontinued passenger train service to Hartsville. The depot was remodeled in 1948 to house the office of the chairman of the ALC Board. The office was occupied by Wiggins until 1980.
It was later used as the Hartsville Museum. When the museum was relocated to its present location, the Genealogical Society housed its records in the building. The genealogical books and records were moved to the Darlington County Historical Commission in the summer of 2016. The building has remained empty since then.
“The transformation of the depot is an exciting project to watch,” said Johnny Andrews, Hartsville City Council member. “Before the city initially sold the depot, we researched and put in place an historic property covenant using the Secretary of the Interior’s guidelines for properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places.”
Andrews said they were fortunate to have the expertise of Renee Brown-Bryant, who is a native of Darlington but who now lives in Georgia, to help. She has a graduate degree in Historic Preservation and was familiar with the building.
“We were also fortunate to have the advice of Mike Bedenbaugh from the Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation,” Andrews said. “Once the historic covenant was ironed out, the city council approved it knowing that the historic elements of the depot would be preserved well into the future.
“I am an advocate of adaptive reuse of historic properties. The depot and the old Thornwell Elementary School are local examples. The city council passed the Bailey Bill a couple of years ago which encourages the adaptive reuse of historic buildings by freezing the assessment values of those properties undergoing redevelopment. (Prior approval is necessary before being this process.) Last year the county council also followed suit, which really enhanced this incentive. There are also multiple state and federal incentives available for the restoration of historic properties.”
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