From an album cover featuring Ernie Heckscher at the Cotillion Ball, 1959, via Wikipedia.

S.C. HISTORY: Debutante balls

S.C. Encyclopedia  |  The debutante ball as a rite of passage for young girls probably evolved from a seventeenth-century European custom in which aristocratic families presented their daughters at court to help them find suitable husbands. While a debutante may be presented to South Carolina society at an individual ball, tea dance, or other party given by her parents, the social events that accompany the debutante season across the state usually revolve around the official debutante balls held by organizations created specifically for that purpose.

The grande dame of these ball organizations in South Carolina is Charleston’s St. Cecilia Society. Officially organized as a musical society in 1762, St. Cecilia turned to purely social events in 1822, and ever since then its ball has been considered the most exclusive in the state. The second organization appeared in 1889, when a group of Columbia women decided to develop the Assembly Ball as a social event modeled after the St. Cecilia, with the stated purpose of giving “their daughters a dignified background, and a fitting, yet attractive opportunity for them to be presented to society.”

MYSTERY PHOTO:  More columns

MYSTERY PHOTO:  More columns

Here’s a building that could have been in the news recently (if so, why?)  Send your best guess to:  feedback@statehousereport.com and make sure to include your name and hometown.  If possible, write “Mystery Photo” in the subject line.

Last week’s church photo, sent in by reader Don Clark of Hartsville, wasn’t a mystery to several alert readers.  They knew it to be the Salem Black River Presbyterian Church, a beautiful Green Revival building near Mayesville in Sumter County.  Last month, three males and a female from 18 to 20 were arrested after satanic symbols and messages were spray painted on the church in late September.

Medals of Honor awarded by the three branches of the U.S. military.  Left to right are the Army, Coast Guard/Navy/Marine Corps, and Air Force. (Source: Wikipedia.)

HISTORY: S.C. Medal of Honor recipients

S.C. Encyclopedia  |  Approved by the United States Congress in 1862, the Medal of Honor is America’s highest award for military valor. Thirty native South Carolinians have been awarded the medal for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity” above that of their comrades in arms. On rare occasions the Medal of Honor has been awarded for individual exploits taking place in peacetime. Among them is Shipfitter First Class George Huber Wheeler of Charleston, who received the award for extraordinary heroism during a fire at Coquimbo, Chile, on January 20, 1909.

MYSTERY PHOTO: Another old church

MYSTERY PHOTO: Another old church

Staff reports  |  With last week’s church being such a popular mystery for readers, we thought we’d feature another old church this week that was shared by a reader.  Send your best guess to:  feedback@statehousereport.com and make sure to include your name and hometown.  If possible, write “Mystery Photo” in the subject line.

In the last issue, our weekly Mystery Photo was of an old church, a photo taken by writer John Clark of Columbia.  He shared that it was part of his book, Scenic Driving South Carolina.  He said the photo showed “The Episcopal Church of the Holy Apostles at 1706 Hagood Avenue, Barnwell. …

SPOTLIGHT:  Francis Marion University

SPOTLIGHT: Francis Marion University

Francis Marion University is a public university located in Florence, S.C. It was founded in 1970 with a mission to provide the people of the Pee Dee, and of South Carolina, with high quality, yet accessible, university education. FMU has stayed true to that mission for nearly 50 years. In any given year, more than 95 percent of the university’s students are South Carolinians, and FMU is, by most measures, the most affordable college in the state.

by · 11/10/2017 · Features, Spotlight
Hunting Island lighthouse

SC ENCYCLOPEDIA:  South Carolina’s lighthouses

S.C. Encyclopedia  |  South Carolina’s 180-mile coastline is replete with bays, inlets, and harbors. To assist shipping and aid navigation, lighthouses and beacons have dotted the South Carolina coast for centuries. The earliest warning lights were probably bonfires lit to aid ships entering the harbor at Charleston. South Carolina’s first lighthouse, built in 1767, stood on Middle Bay Island (now a part of Morris Island) in the Charleston harbor.

When the federal government assumed responsibility for all lighthouses in 1789, South Carolina had only one—the Morris Island lighthouse. That year Paul Trapier donated land for a lighthouse on North Island at the mouth of Winyah Bay. The Georgetown lighthouse was completed and lit in 1801.

MYSTERY PHOTO:  Old wooden church

MYSTERY PHOTO:  Old wooden church

It’s pretty obvious that this is an old church.  But where is it?  For bonus points, what historical significance does it have?  Send your best guess to:  feedback@statehousereport.com and make sure to include your name and hometown.  If possible, write “Mystery Photo” in the subject line.

Last week’s Mystery Photo highlighted the mountains in South Carolina at Caesars head State Park in a photo offered by DiscoverSouthCarolina.com.  Lots of people were familiar with the location, as evidenced by the broad geographic diversity among those who correctly identified the photo.


HISTORY: Marjory Wentworth, poet laureate

S.C. Encyclopedia  | Born in Lynn, Massachusetts, on June 3, 1958, Marjory Heath Wentworth is the daughter of John Heath and Mary Tully. She received a bachelor’s degree from Mount Holyoke College in anthropology and political science in 1980 and an M.A. in literature and creative writing from New York University in 1984. On June 27, 1981, she married the filmmaker Peter Wentworth. They have three sons.