Saratoga of the South
A South Carolina "Spa"
In 1852, following the discovery of a "healing" spring and the announcement that the railroad was going to be running through the area, the Town of Williamston was chartered. In time, lots were sold for houses to be built, streets were laid, and schools and churches were founded. several hotels were built and prior to the Civil War, Williamston became one of the largest resorts in the South. It became known as the "Saratoga of the South," referring to New York's Saratoga Springs, another well-known community founded because of its natural springs. Unfortunately, by 1860 a devastating fire burned two of the hotels and several other structures and, with the onset of the Civil War, the town lost its primary recreational activity.
Today Williamston preserves its rich heritage and invites visitors to tour the town and nearby park to see the famous springs.
In 1872, the hotel which was built to replace those burned by fire was purchased by Mr. Samuel Lander. The Williamston Female College was founded on February 12, 1878 in this location. Following the establishment of the college, the Williamston Hotel opened. Thus three hotels were then located in the town. However, in 1900, these three were not enough to accommodate the demand for rooms.
Hotels and Community Services
In 1904, the Williamston Female College relocated to nearby Greenwood where its name was changed to Lander College. The vacated building was once again converted into a hotel, Park View Hotel. It was later purchased and renamed as the Colonial Hotel. In 1924, the Colonial Hotel closed its doors and was replaced by the elementary school. In 1965, the old Williamston Hotel was destroyed by fire.
"It was fitted with every modern convenience, the one hundred and fifty rooms were always full. Lighted by gas and served by an army of trained waiters, the marry throng from Charleston and the lowcountry danced the hours away to the inspiring measures of a splendid orchestra, or strolled out among the magnificent oaks, catching in every breath freshness, vigor, health and happiness from the pure air blown straight off the brow of Caesar's Head and from the magic power of the Chalybeate crystal waters, which flow still so constant, so free, so powerful at the foot of the hill when they first rush out to meet the sun."
— Anderson Intelligencer
, October 1896.