The passing of a local icon
by Laura Stone | January 13, 2019 5:00 pm
Last Updated: January 11, 2019 at 10:11 am
Many in Clarendon County have become familiar with the large red building behind the Farmers’ Market, fondly known to some as “The Red Barn.”
Originally called the Levi Warehouse, the side-gabled, one-story warehouse was built sometime between 1912 and 1923, possibly after the original building was destroyed by a tornado in 1915, according to the National Register. The Register further states the side sheds were added some time after 1953.
Built as a tobacco barn, the building was repurposed over the decades. The Register states that according to Sanborn Fire Insurance Company maps from 1933 to 1953, the building was used to store fertilizer.
According to Jerry Robertson, past President of the Clarendon County, his father-in-law, Edwin Eadon, owned a grocery store and furniture store on the corner on the street with the Red Barn. These buildings are now law offices.
“I think 1937 is when Edwin’s father opened his grocery store where the law offices are now,” said Robertson. At some point after that time, the family purchased the Red Barn, and the building was used to warehouse surplus grocery items stocked in the store. Eadon and his father owned the grocery together, although Eadon was absent for five years during World War II, while he served his country.
After Eadon’s father was killed in a street accident on Church Street, Eadon took total ownership of the business. He maintained the grocery store, using the Red Barn for warehouse space, for years. Later, he migrated toward appliances and furniture, again using the Red Barn for warehouse and repair space.
Robertson’s brother-in-law, Ansel McFaddin, who was Eadon’s son-in-law, bought the furniture store, appliance store and the Red Barn from Eadon. After McFaddin’s death, the building which now houses the law offices was sold. However, they kept ownership of the Red Barn.
“The Red Barn was a storage area and was also a repair shop for the appliances and was storage for the furniture,” said Robertson, who hopes his information will bring out conversations about the building from others who have lived in the area long enough to remember more of its history.
Before the Red Barn was demolished, Robertson was among the few who were able to recover items from the inside before the work trucks began tearing it down.
“These are items which came out of that building, which I consider to be historic,” said Robertson, who currently runs the Clarendon County Historical Society Museum. He recovered a farm bell which likely dates back to the 1800s and bottles from the two soft drink manufacturers which were in Manning many years ago.
In December, the Red Barn was torn down in a matter of days, leaving an empty lot where there once stood a building for close to, if not over, a century. Manning Mayor Julia Nelson regrets that the building needed to be demolished, but due to its decaying state, the City felt it had no choice. Prior to the tear-down, the City had already begun the planning stages to replace the building.
With this in mind, City employees removed part of the tin siding and reclaimed usable wood from the building, in order to link the new building to the historic significance of the old.
“We plan to build something usable for our Farmers’ Market, as well as the community at large,” said Nelson. “It won’t be elaborate, but it will be both substantial and aesthetically pleasing, increasing our City’s appeal.” She had previously visited other cities’ Farmers’ Markets, assessing how best to provide for the local Manning market.
The City is still looking into possible grants, including USDA grants, to rebuild as the property will be primarily tied to the Farmers’ Market. There will be designs assessed, funding procured and bids taken. The process, according to Nelson, will likely take a couple of years.
“I’m a person who loves history,” stated Nelson, who confessed she is the person who first called the building “The Red Barn” years ago. She felt it fit the building’s character and style and deeply regrets the loss of one of the City’s icons, but she looks forward to being a part of creating a new one which the entire City can enjoy for decades to come.