In the place that once housed a movie theater, a five-and-dime, a health food store and a real estate office, The State Center will soon chronicle the history of Loris, providing a museum and a venue for meetings and events.
The Loris Historical Society purchased the building at 4149 Main St. for $70,000 in July 2019 and anticipates the cost of the project, including the purchase price, to be about $225,000.
“New people and residents will know where Loris came from," said James Edwards, the historical society's president. “People like remembering their past and their childhoods. They like to reminisce and remember stories from their lives. That will be easier when they can go back and walk through a place where they saw their first movie. That means something to everybody."
Phase one was demolition, and it took about a year to rip out and haul away everything in the now-gutted building.
“Everything is gone, torn out and gutted to come back new in the restoration process,” Edwards said.
The idea for a museum had been floated around town for several years, Edwards said. When the Main Street building became available, it fit into that vision.
Samantha Norris, secretary/treasurer of the historical society and executive director of the Loris Chamber of Commerce, said the structure is significant.
“This building is historical to us and we want to preserve that," she said. “This museum is to help people reminisce. For the older ones, it’s about their time. For the younger ones, they can see where they came from.”
The front of the building will house the museum and the back, which will include a kitchen and restroom, will be a venue for everything from baby showers to chamber of commerce meetings. That venue feature will help raise money for the museum project.
“The venue space gives this a new twist because we can have art shows there, concerts, all kinds of things for the visitors and residents,” Norris said. “What we can do there is unlimited, and it’ll be all in one.”
Norris hopes the venue side of the facility will be open by the spring, and the museum will begin collecting items later that year. The society plans to gradually grow its collection.
The front of the building will include a marquee that will stream digital advertising about community events.
“It’ll be in the same fashion as the original signage and will be a visual highlight,” Edwards said.
Also planned is a balcony similar to the one the original State Theatre, built in 1937, had.
“We want this to be as close to what it used to be as possible with modern functionality,” he said.
In phase two of the project, money is what they need from the community, Edwards said.
There are several ways the community can contribute. A $250 patron sponsorship earns a one-year membership to the historical society and the donor’s business name on the society’s website and Facebook page.
The $500 bronze sponsorship adds an additional society membership and a brick paver in the foyer.
The $1,000 silver sponsorship adds two individual or business more society memberships, an additional paver and a listing on the inside Wall of Fame.
The $2,500 gold sponsorship adds two more memberships, another paver, one free venue event and an individualized check presentation.
The $5,000 diamond sponsorship adds two more pavers and another venue event.
The $10,000 platinum sponsorship adds five more pavers and two more venue events.
People can also become Loris Historical Society members for $50 or buy pavers with their names on them for $100 each. Donations can be made through Norris at the chamber by calling 843-756-6030.
The museum will tell the story of Loris: forestry, turpentine production, tobacco operations and soybean farming, among other things.
“If you know your past history, you can know your roots, know how far you’ve come in the progress you’ve made,” Edwards said. “You have a benchmark in that regard and it’s always good to see how your forefathers’ life experiences were compared to yours. We can see the progress over time that Loris has made in every facet of life, including technology.”