GREENVILLE, S.C. – Hartsville’s new downtown children’s museum, EdVenture Hartsville, received top recognition for excellence from Main Street South Carolina with the 2019 Excellence on Main Street Award.
The award was presented during the Municipal Association of South Carolina’s Annual Meeting on July 20.
The Excellence on Main Street award recognizes the top project from among the winners in five categories of the Main Street Inspiration Awards.
After first opening in Columbia in 2003, the EdVenture Children's Museum received acclaim as one of the best children's museums in the nation. In 2018 it expanded into Hartsville, thanks to a partnership that brought together groups including the city of Hartsville and nonprofit groups local to Hartsville, such as The Byerly Foundation.
“It was the serendipitive collision that is Hartsville where everything just happened to collide and come together at the perfect time,” said Main Street Hartsville Executive Director Suzy Moyd.
The project, aimed at improving the community's downtown core alongside bolstering the area's opportunities for children, created a miniature version of Hartsville's downtown, familiarizing children with the city and helping them grow as citizens.
Some features include a grocery store, the Sonoco Maker's Space, where children learn the importance of recycling, as well as the Carolina Pines Regional Medical Center and ambulance.
“We were just really lucky that not only did big business embrace this idea and building a small, a miniature community where kids could actually get to walk around and feel like they were in downtown Hartsville, but we also had community leaders and people in education that came together and wanted to see this happen,” Moyd said.
“Everyone at EdVenture, from the board of directors, to committees, to staff, to volunteers, loved the design of EdVenture Hartsville because it does bring the Main Street down to a child’s level so that they can walk through Main Street and do the same sorts of things that they’ve witnessed mommas, daddies, their grandparents doing, down to a child’s level,” said Denise Holland, director of development for EdVenture.
“That’s important because many times a child gets to see it only from an adult’s perspective,” Holland said. “This is from a child’s perspective and they can grow with that and be inspired with it. And that’s what EdVenture is all about, let’s inspire them through play.”
Grants have allowed for decreased ticket pricing through the Yes, Every Child initiative. EdVenture has also obtained a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services for efforts to address community violence, including the creation of a Future Leaders Program at Hartsville Middle School.
In the formative stage of the effort to bring EdVenture to Hartsville, initial organizers and Main Street Hartsville created an informal tea party to bring together interested women. The group emerging from this effort then organized a Ladies' Night Out Fashion Show Fundraiser spotlighting downtown clothing and accessory boutiques. The show is now an annual event aimed at raising operational funds for EdVenture.
The museum is housed in a 5,000-square-foot downtown building bought by the city of Hartsville. The city repaved the building's parking lot and repaired the roof, pledging $100,000 every year for five years. The Byerly Foundation granted $500,000, and other nonprofits contributed as well.
"Hartsville has done it again. They used public private partnerships to bring even more educational opportunities to residents and visitors," said Jenny Boulware, Main Street South Carolina manager.
Main Street South Carolina is a program of the Municipal Association of South Carolina. It empowers residents, business owners and local officials with the knowledge, skills, tools and organizational structure necessary to revitalize their downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts into vibrant centers of commerce and community.
Main Street South Carolina follows the National Main Street's Four Point Approach – economic vitality, design, promotion and organization. Each year, Main Street South Carolina recognizes members' achievements and successes in downtown revitalization.