SHARON — After nearly nine years, efforts have ended to turn a century-old home near Sharon into a Western York County museum and visitors center.
Two property auctions were held at the Rainey house on S.C. 211 outside Sharon. Next, the home will be sold.
The money from the liquidation of the estate will go to a scholarship fund for the Medical University of South Carolina, one of the options in Joe Rainey’s will, said Phillip Faulkner of Hickory Grove, administrator of Rainey’s estate.
“It would have been a wonderful asset to York County,” Faulkner said last week.
The antebellum-style home, built in 1910 for the family of John S. Rainey, was last inhabited by his grandson Joe Rainey, an original director of Historic Brattonsville. Rainey, who had previously worked as a set director in Hollywood, lived there alone and died in 2004.
Joe Rainey’s estate included the possibility of donating the house and the 18-acre property that surrounds it to York County, to establish an educational and historic site and a visitor attraction.
Faulkner has been trying to make that happen since Rainey died, he said, but neither the Culture & Heritage Museums nor the York County Council would agree to take the property.
The County Council last year turned down a proposed plan to operate the site as an education and visitors center. Council members said they wanted to see a better business plan that would enable the site to be financially self-sustaining.
Faulkner said a probate judge ordered the estate to be liquidated. He said donating the money to a scholarship at MUSC was another option in Rainey’s will.
A previous York County Council had supported a recommendation from York County Forever, a preservation organization, to use $500,000 earmarked for establishing green spaces across the county for the Rainey house and grounds.
However, county leaders said that support was given with the understanding that there would be other private money involved in the project and that it would sustain itself financially.
“This would have been a wonderful gateway place for people coming into western York County,” said historian Jerry West, chairman of the committee appointed to look into preserving the property.
“I’m just very sorry we’re losing that,” said West, also director of the Museum of Western York County in Sharon. “It would have been a wonderful gift for western York County and all of York County.”
West and other members of the committee proposed operating the site as an education and visitor center with space for public events and private functions. The property has ample space for nature trails, West said, and there’s a pond.
One concern about operating the property was the cost of staffing it, West said.
York County Councilman Joe Cox of Sharon, who was not on the council when it voted against the plan to operate the house, said seeing the house sold is “bittersweet.” He said the property might have been a good fit in the future.
But Faulkner said the home and property will now be put on the real estate market. If the property doesn’t sell within 120 days, he said, it will be auctioned.
Faulkner has been talking with the Palmetto Trust, an organization that buys and preserves old homes and resells them with restrictive covenants. He said it’s possible the home could be saved that way.