Pendleton Town Hall is located at 310 Greenville Street, Pendleton SC 29670; phone: 864-646-9409.<
Founded in 1790, Pendleton is the Upstate's oldest town and perhaps the most historically significant. The Town of Pendleton comprises the majority of the 6,300 acre Pendleton Historic District. The District, created in 1970, is one of the nation's first and largest historic districts, encompassing not only the resources of the town, but also surrounding plantation manors, country homes, historic churches, and a monument to Fort Rutledge.
Pendleton is fortunate that many of its most significant historical resources have been preserved. The town developed quickly into a thriving trade center for the South Carolina Upcountry while serving as the seat of the Pendleton District (present day Anderson, Oconee, and Pickens Counties), in which the town was centered geographically. In 1816, when the District was divided to create present day Anderson County, Pendleton was pulled from the District and left standing at the edge of a new county. County residents thus chose to relocate the judicial courts to a new seat in a central location, the City of Anderson. The construction of the Pendleton District courthouse, now Farmers Society Hall, was just underway as this announcement was made. The project was completed nonetheless and turned over to different uses. Hence, the building never required replacement for expanded facilities, as were many historic courthouses. Therefore, the integrity and scale of the hall and subsequently the Town Center established in the early days of Pendleton have been preserved.
While other South Carolina municipalities relied on the railroad for economic development, the diversion of primary railroads from Pendleton helped to preserve the scale of the town. Today, many of the once thriving rail towns have dysfunctional centers split by seldom used rail lines as the train has fallen out of favor over time. Conversely, Pendleton has suffered little from the railroad's demise. Also, as many residents recognize, the absence of an interstate freeway through the town or its vicinity has prevented typical commercial strip development from deflating the old commercial core.
Nonetheless, the recent trend of automobile-oriented commerce to the junction of Clemson Boulevard and South Mechanic Street now threatens this assumption. The historic sites and structures of Pendleton have survived despite periods of economic decline and limited growth over the past 150 years. The redevelopment into newer and larger buildings has never been necessitated by economic demand. Only in the past three decades, with the recent significant growth of nearby Clemson University and the suburbanization of the area, has Pendleton been threatened by the pressures of growth. The knowledge of Pendleton's historic and cultural resources must be passed on and is a key factor in the identity of the town.
One of Pendleton's most important and prominent resources is its Village Green in the center of town and the site of the Farmers Society Hall. Originally constructed as the Pendleton District Courthouse, it was purchased by the Pendleton Farmers Society, which still meets on the building's second floor. Farmers Society Hall is the oldest such building in continuous use in the United States. Its first floor houses a restaurant that features outdoor seating on the Village Green.
The green is also the site of the old guardhouse and the former Pendleton Library. The guardhouse was built in 1860 to replace an earlier jail. A one-story annex to the guardhouse was constructed in 1911, at which time the building was converted to a library. The building now serves as a magistrate's office for the town. The Mi Casa Garden Club utilizes the space downstairs for its offices.
The Village Green itself is the civic focus of the town, as it has been for most of Pendleton's 216 years. The centrally located green space is ideal for the town's annual festivals as well as informal gatherings. The green provides a serene setting for Farmers Society Hall and town residents seeking recreation and leisure while giving the surrounding town center commercial area depth and visibility.