Chapin Historical Association
The Chapin Historical Association is charged with helping the Town preserve the history of Chapin through:
Acquisition of artifacts
Documenting of history
Planning for a future museum
Preserving historic structures
Led by a group of volunteers, the Chapin Historical Association successfully achieved 501 (c)3 non-profit organization status in 2016 to preserve the significant, cultural & aesthetic components that collectively define Chapin's past & early pioneering efforts of its founder, Martin Chapin. A downtown commercial historic district, including 13 significant buildings, has been identified and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Markers designating them as historic structures have been place on qualifying buildings. Also, two bronze markers have been placed -- one of Lexington Avenue in front of Chapin's first town hall and one on Clark Street in front of the George W. Lindler Building, known locally as the Dispensary. The Chapin Historic Association is working on a video presentation featuring Chapin's history, and has future plans to establish a museum within the historic district.
From Dutch Fork to The Capital of Lake Murray, Chapin’s history stretches back some 250 years.
The first European settlers arrived at the forks of the Saluda and Broad rivers in the mid 1700s. Many of these German settlers — called the Dutch by English speakers (a corruption of Deutsch) — possessed land grants from England, and they laid claim to this river and pine region. Truly settled, many of these early German pioneers never left the area, which had come to be known as Dutch Fork. This insulated community held fast to its old ways, with many residents speaking German well into the 1800s, while others fabricated a unique dialect.
In the 1800s, the pine forests of South Carolina were celebrated by doctors as being healthful for those with lung ailments, and many sufferers came south to benefit from the clean, fragrant air. Among them was Martin Chapin, who traveled from Cortland, NY, to improve his ailing lungs.
Chapin prospered here — not only medically, but financially as well. He started a highly successful lumber business, purchasing large tracts of land in the area that would one day become Lake Murray. Needing a way to get his lumber to market, Chapin granted a right-of-way to the CN&L Railway. Chapin’s railway brought more businesses to the area, and Chapin officially allotted the land for the town on December 24, 1889.
After a period of prosperity primarily based on agriculture, Chapin felt the blow of the Great Depression, which precipitated the failure of the Bank of Chapin. The area had remained relatively isolated, and with the bank’s failure, many farmers lost everything. But the region was soon to become an important centerpiece in the Midlands’ growth and prosperity.
In 1927, the Saluda River was dammed to create Lake Murray, which was to serve as a source of hydroelectric power. The birth of the lake caused initial upheaval, as thousands of people and institutions were relocated to make way. But the dam also brought employment and newcomers to the area; at the time of its building, it was the world’s largest earthen dam constructed for power.
The benefits brought by the lake have endured. Today, Chapin is one of the Midland’s most prosperous communities. Beautiful Lake Murray has evolved to become a recreational gem that attracts visitors from around the country to fish, sail, swim, and water-ski. “The Capital of Lake Murray” has created a wonderful home with a great lifestyle.
Sources: "Chapin, SC, the first 100 years"; Greater Chapin Chamber of Commerce
The lake today is one of Chapin's grandest assets, the lure that attracts people from all parts of the country, who are looking for a great place to live and raise a family. Chapin is truly "The Capital of Lake Murray."
JJ Casey Founder, Chairwoman, and JT (John) Thomason Co.Founder and Vice Chairman, were delighted to accept for the Chapin Historical Association a grant from the Greater Chapin Community Endowment in 2017. Learn more...
Official National Register of Historic Places
The Chapin Historical Association was excited to have the official historical markers installed in front of the two buildings that were once part of a thriving downtown in the new city of Chapin, SC in the early 1900's.