After nearly nine years, efforts have ended to turn a century-old home near Sharon into a Western York County museum and visitors center.
The second of two property auctions at the Rainey house on S.C. 211 outside Sharon was conducted Saturday by York auctioneer Ken Spaulding. 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 the 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 offered 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 said he has been trying to make that happen since Rainey’s death. However, he said neither the Culture and Heritage Museum or the York County Council would agree to take the property.
Members of the York County Council last year turned down a proposed plan to operate the site as an education and visitor 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 fund for MUSC was another option in Rainey’s well.
A previous York County Council had supported a recommendation from York County Forever, a preservation organization, to set aside $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.
“I think this would have been a wonderful gateway place for people coming into Western York County,” said area historian Jerry West, who was chairman of the committee appointed to look into preserving the property.
“I’m just very sorry we’re losing that,” said West, who is 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 both public events and private functions. The property has ample space for nature trails, and there’s a pond on the property, West said.
West said that one of the concerns about operating the property was the cost of staffing it.
York County Councilman Joe Cox, who was not on the council that voted down the plan for operating 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 surrounding property will now be put on the real estate market. If the property doesn’t sell within 120 days, Faulkner said, it will be auctioned.
Faulkner said he has been talking with the Palmetto Trust, an organization that purchases and preserves old homes and then resells them with certain restrictive covenants. He said it’s possible the home could be saved that way.