A South Carolina Railroad Village
The community of Willington is significant as a reminder of the role of the railroad in community development in rural South Carolina at the close of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth century. During this period Willington was a thriving village, but it began to decline in the years between the two World Wars. The remaining buildings at Willington represent this boom period for the railroad in upstate South Carolina. The core of Willington's historic district is represented by a row of commercial buildings, a church, several residences, the old Willington School, and related resources.
South Carolina Highway 81 passes through Willington and was designated as the Savannah River Scenic Highway in the mid-1980s. A movement is in process to restore and reuse the residences and commercial buildings along this corridor.
New Bordeaux Huguenot Settlement
Located near Willington is the site of one of seven French Protestants (Huguenot) settlements in South Carolina and the only one in the upstate. The first settlement was in 1764 and the second in 1768. A granite marker was erected in 1937 and is the only visible remains of the town.
Moses Waddel and The Willington Academy
Dr. Moses Waddel (1770-1840), a Presbyterian minister was one of the most eminent American educators in the nineteenth century. His school, The Willington Academy, located near the town of Willington, has been called "the American Eton." Opening the Academy in 1804, Waddel taught the classics to many prominent South Carolinians including a U.S. Vice President, nine governors, three U.S. Secretaries of War, two U.S. Secretaries of State, a U.S. Secretary of Treasury, five U.S. Senators, and at least nineteen members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Other pupils of Waddel became ministers, lawyers, bankers, and presidents of railroads.
Green Olive School
This African-American schoolhouse was built around 1920 by the Green Olive AME Church. It was donated to Willington on the Way on 2000, moved to its present location, and restored with a Heritage Corridor grant. It now serves as an African-American Cultural Center.
Willington was a cotton boom town whose growth was sparked by the Savannah Valley Railroad in 1886. The brick store buildings, built circa 1912, fell into disrepair over the years. In 1995 and 1997 they were listed among "The Eleven Most Endangered Historic Sites in SC." This led the McCormick Historical Commission to form the non-profit organization, "Willington on the Way," to raise money and supervise restoration.
The large two-story frame home located in Willington was built around 1856 for Edwin Calhoun. The architect was William Jones of Atlanta, Georgia, who also designed Lower Long Cane Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church as well as numerous other plantation homes throughout the Abbeville District. The home is privately owned.
The cemetery is located near J. Strom Thurmond Lake, about five miles from Willington. It is surrounded by a brick wall approximately four feet high. Among the members of the Noble family buried there is Patrick Noble (1782-1840). He was a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives and Senate and was Governor of the state from 1838 until his death.
Mims Community Center
This building was constructed about 1906 for the Willington School. It was completely renovated in 1994 for the community center, and now contains a spacious meeting room and kitchen.
Dr. John Albert Gilbert completed his classic revival home in Bordeaux in 1867. The house may have been designed by William Jones of Atlanta, Georgia. The home is privately owned.