Located 30 miles southeast of Columbus, St. Matthews is the county seat of Calhoun County, South Carolina. Although it’s a small town with few big-city attractions, St. Matthews attracts visitors interested in the region’s long history. Many archeological sites, antebellum homes and structures in the area are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The quiet community serves as a good base for exploring recreational actives in nearby Lake Marion and Congaree National Park as well.
Evidence of human occupation has been found in St. Matthews dating back to the Paleoindian Period. The site of modern-day St. Matthews was also a stopping point for Native Americans along the Cherokee Path, a footpath that once crossed the entire length of South Carolina. The town is one of the few places in the state where parts of the path are still visible.
St. Matthews was originally known as Lewisville, a town that was established when the railroad came through in the mid-19th century. The town’s charter never received state approval, however, and when the city was officially incorporated in 1876, it was renamed after the colonial St. Matthew’s Parish. The Calhoun County Museum and Cultural Center houses many artifacts, art and costumes from the town’s early history.
St. Matthews has a land area of 1.93 square miles. Situated on the Atlantic Coastal Plan, the city has an elevation of 287 feet. St. Matthews is intersected by U.S. Route 601 and South Caroline Highway 6.
With a humid subtropical climate, St. Matthews gets an average of 47 inches of rain each year. There are around 222 sunny days each year, and the average daytime high temperature in July is 92 degrees Fahrenheit. The average low daytime temperature in January is around 34 degrees.
The population of St. Matthews has declined in recent years and today is estimated to be less than 2,000. The median household income has increased, however, rising from around $25,000 in 2000 to nearly $30,000 in 2012. Median home values have also improved, increasing from $63,000 in 2000 to more than $100,000 in 2012.
Points of Interest
St. Matthews reached its heyday during the antebellum period before the Civil War, and several historic homes and farm buildings from the era are still standing:
- Once owned by State Senator Olin Dantzler, the Crutchfield House is a great example of a southern antebellum summer home. Built in 1850, it is the oldest residence in St. Matthews.
- The David Houser House was home to one of the region’s most successful residents. The estate once stood at 4,800 acres and included a plantation, a mill and the cemetery where Houser is buried.
- The only plantation home in St. Matthews still standing, Puritan Farm was built in the early 1800s and became the home of Congressman Lawrence Keitt, a leader in the South Carolina secessionist movement.
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