NEWBERRY — In 2007 the Firehouse Conference Center opened, bringing a new use to a historic building in the City of Newberry. This year the Conference Center celebrated its 10 year anniversary.
“I’d like to congratulate the Conference Center on 10 years of being here. It is hard to imagine it has been that long. I think back to all the occasions I have attended here, and it has been a while,” said Michelle Long, executive director of the Newberry County Chamber of Commerce during the Business After Hours.
The history of the building goes back further than 10 years. In 1758, the larger districts of northern South Carolina were broken up into smaller counties, and Newberry was one of six counties that made up the Ninety Six District, according to newberryfirehouse.com/history.
In 1883, the Newberry Fire Department was formed by the town, and was housed in the Opera House. A few years later a two story fire house was built right next door.
“It was constructed in the 1890’s, this housed the fire department, police station, dispatch and downstairs it was the city jail, which is very interesting,” said Mayor Foster Senn. “In these halls were originally the fire wagons that were pulled by horses, and there are neat pictures in the Conference Center about that.”
The building served as the firehouse until the 1980’s, when it was decommissioned and a new station was built on Nance Street, where the police station and fire station are today.
“After that, the building kinda went down hill, pretty badly. In 2004, the city had the Opera House Foundation. The Opera House was up and running and doing well. They said, ‘let’s look at the Firehouse and make it into a conference center.’ That effort was made, that was just before I came onto City Council by the way,” Senn said.
Through a series of grants and sales tax money, the Firehouse was renovated and in 2007 it officially opened as the Firehouse Conference Center.
“We are now in our 10th year, and we are just really proud of this building, and it still looks new to me,” Senn said.
Senn added that two things stand out to him when it comes to the Firehouse Conference Center, the history and the hospitality.
“One person wrote, and this was for a work retreat, ‘great facility for our staff retreat and restaurant that was recommended to us was excellent. We had everything we need from a PowerPoint projector, flip charts and an ice machine. Could have not asked for a better environment,’” Foster said. “This came from a mother of a bride, ‘we could not have asked for a better and more satisfying experience. Suzanne and her staff are wonderful. Every need was discussed and planned prior to the event, making the entire focus on event participants. This place was just great, staff was excellent and so professional.’”
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @ TheNBOnews.