With Sale of Country Club Final, What Comes Next?

Barbara Franklin, Mission President for Christ Central Ministries; Dru Blair; Jimmy Burroughs, Good Samaritan House; and Jimmy Jones, Christ Central Ministries meet at the Fairfield Country Club to discuss the future of the facility.

A project that could forever change the face of downtown Winnsboro took its first step last month with the closing of a deal that saw the Fairfield County Club change hands, from the Mount Zion Society to Christ Central Ministries (CCM), which has missions of community outreach in Clinton, Aiken, Allendale and other locations throughout the state. The $150,000 deal was finalized June 29 and Monday, members of Christ Central sat down in the lounge of their newly acquired asset to discuss the building’s future.

“This was not an easy thing to work through, for (the Christ Central) membership or for the Mount Zion Society,” said Pastor Jimmy Jones, front man for CCM. “We’ve worked on many projects in Winnsboro. This one came up and we saw an opportunity here because of the dedicated membership. The Country Club is one of the prettiest things you see as you drive into Winnsboro, and it’s very hard to rejuvenate an economy once a major landmark like this closes. Our goal was to preserve this facility and the ability to play golf. Our hope is to stabilize this facility and the golf course.”

But golf is only the tip of the iceberg for the future of the Country Club, which many hope will become the foothold for the downtown relocation efforts of the Dru Blair School of Art, currently housed in Blair.

“The Dru Blair School of Art would like to locate in downtown Winnsboro,” Jones said, “with a vision similar to that of the Savannah College of Art and Design. In order to take it from five-day-a-week, three-week courses to a full semester will require infrastructure. We met with Dru about what that might look like and what facilities would be needed.”

The Country Club, Blair agreed, would be an ideal jumping-off point.

“It’s a long journey that has to be taken one step at a time,” Blair, a world-renowned realism artist and Fairfield County native, said. “Our goal is to have the most exceptional art college in the world right here.”

Blair said there are already seven artists from around the world committed to joining his staff as instructors at a campus that would, eventually, stretch from one end of town to the other, culminating at a home campus in the old Mount Zion Institute building. From a small core of initial enrollees, the college would grow to 1,500 students who, Blair said, would have a $20-$30 million impact on the local economy every year, according to an as-yet unreleased economic impact study by the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.

“They (the students) would come right away if we had a place to put them,” Blair said.

Ultimately, however, it will be up to the community to decide to what use the Country Club will be put, as Jones said the next step in the process is to invite citizens to join the effort and form teams to plot out the future of the facility. Invitations were sent out this week, Jones said, to dozens of community members, and phone calls will be made as well. And the list of players has not been finalized, Jones added.

“There’s a lot of room for people in Fairfield County to get involved,” Jones said. “Anyone interested can call Jimmy Burroughs.”

Burroughs, who heads up Winnsboro’s Good Samaritan House for CCM, can be reached at 803-309-9390.