Fountain Inn, History

Away Back When

Christmas Exhibit in Fountain Inn

Amid the hectic hustle-bustle of the 21st century run-up to December 25, there is one easy way to harken back to an easier, more stress-free era. That’s the theme of the Fountain Inn Museum’s current Christmas exhibit, Away Back When.

Based on the writings of Caroline Coleman (1883 – 1969), the exhibit goes through December 20.

Historian Caroline Coleman
(1883 – 1969)

Caroline Coleman: recognize the name? Probably not today, but if you read Greenville newspapers in the 50s and 60s, the answer would be Yes.

A  Fountain Inn native, her column in the Greenville Piedmont was titled, Away Back When, and dwelt on Greenville county life in years gone by, reaching clear back to the early 19th century. Her historical snapshots were widely syndicated – papers such as the Charleston News & Courier, the Detroit Free Press, the Baltimore Sun and the Philadelphia Inquirer.  But her home base was always the The Fountain Inn Tribune, where she collaborated with the acclaimed writer Robert Quillen.

The Fountain Inn Museum’s Away Back When exhibit features tableaux of Greenville county Christmases as they were celebrated in the 1800s. Without the advantage of the supermarket, how did they go about cake baking? And the tree: how did they decorate it without electric lights?  What kind of toys and family traditions did they have way back then? And how much of that culture survives today? 

Museum guests will see displays illustrating several of Coleman’s writings: Christmas morning stockings, greeting cards, candies, boiled custard (a southern tradition all in itself), and toys. The exhibit tree is a local cedar, chosen and cut in the field, then festively bedecked with popcorn and paper chains – all without the aid of store-bought elements, but nonetheless delightful.

Samples of Christmas cakes are part of the exhibit, along with free recipes.

Away Back When is open Sunday and Monday 6 – 9 PM; Tuesday – Friday 1 – 9 PM; Saturday 9 AM – 2 PM, 6 – 9 PM.

Also now showcased at the Museum (through Dec. 20) is The Making of a Small Town, an exhibit which traces the founding and development of Fountain Inn. Featured are photos and artifacts that harken back to the mid-19th century.

To contact the museum, call (864) 862-2586, or go online to

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