Hollingsworth Outdoor Center

Heritage activities

Heritage building at Hollingsworth Outdoor Center

Whisk students, groups, and families back to a simpler era. The Hollingsworth Outdoor Center — located near the Heritage building at Hollingsworth Outdoor Center

Whisk students, groups, and families back to a simpler era. The Hollingsworth Outdoor Center — located near the GHS Family Y in Simpsonville, South Carolina — offers hands-on activities and explorations on a beautiful 55-acre site.

The 1823 plantation site of Dr. Thomas Collin Austin contains a lovely manor house and a well-preserved set of outbuildings that are unique in the upstate. These include a springhouse built on an artesian well and a washhouse used to wash clothes.

Hands-on activities led by knowledgeable staff give both children and adults a vivid connection to the folks who lived on the property 140 years ago:

  • Brick making: Engage in a craft practiced on the Hollingsworth property.

  • Broom making: Participants will cut broom straw from the fields and craft their own broom.
  • Pioneer tools: Participants will learn about the use of woodworking tools from the 1870s and make a shingle or a rough-hewn bench.

  • Cooking and butter making: Learn how food was prepared in the 1870s and make butter and cornbread.

  • Spinning wool: Using cards and drop spindles, participants learn to make their own yarn.

Journey with us to another time

Contact Greg McKee 864-963-3608 or gmckee@ymcagreenville.org for more information.

Check out our Facebook Place Page (and be sure to Like us) to see highlights of the events and happenings at the Hollingsworth Outdoor Center.

Location & Hours

259 Adams Mill Road
Simpsonville, S.C.  29681

The Hollingsworth Outdoor Center is open for programs and by appointment. To schedule a tour or an event, contact Greg McKee at 864-963-3608.

Upcoming events at the Hollingsworth Outdoor Center

Juneteenth is a holiday celebrated in 35 states that marks the emancipation of slaves in Galveston, Texas in 1865. We celebrate the emancipation at the Hollingsworth Outdoor Center, which is the site of a 19th century plantation. 

This year, we celebrate Juneteenth from 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on Friday, June 19. 

Enjoy a lunch similar to what would have been served in 1865.

Enjoy hands-on activities such as broommaking, ice cream making, cooking a hoe cake, fashioning a brick, hand-dipping candles, Blacksmith demonstrations, and a music and story telling session with John Fowler. 

The cost is $6 per child (ages 4-13) and $10 per adult. For more information, contact Greg McKee at 963-3608.

Hollingsworth Survival Games

Using the book and blockbuster film "The Hunger Games" as inspiration, the Hollingsworth Survival Games will teach participants outdoor skills such as archery, fire building, shelter construction, and orienteering (map and compass use) during the morningAfter lunch, participants will compete — either as small groups or as individuals, depending on the wishes of the groups’ leaders/individuals — to see who is the champion at the skills learned that morning.

Custom sessions for six or more participants are are available by appointment. Contact Greg McKee to schedule a Surivival Games session.


Heritage Summer Camps -- for ages 8-14

Check back in spring 2014 for details on heritage summer camps.  

Archaeolgy Camp

Rising 2nd-9th grade

Campers get an introduction to archaeology, learn the protocol for unearthing the past, and search for actual artifacts on a plantation that dates back to 1823. A field trip to historic Pelham Mills will broaden campers' scope of archaeology in Greenville County.

Dates: June 23-27 

Hours: 9 a.m.-noon

Cost: $85 for members $90 for non-members


Under Construction Camp

Rising K5-9th grade

This camp is for budding builders to develop basic carpentry skills through hands-on training projects. Kindergarten through third grades will make a mallet, rive a shingle, make a tool box, fashion an arrow, and craft a hand-dipped candle. Fourth through ninth grades will construct a pioneer bench, build a birdhouse, make an old-timey broom, and more.

Dates: July 28-Aug. 1

Hours: 9 a.m.-noon

Cost: $85 for members, $90 for non-members

Recent Hollingsworth Outdoor Center activities



Brick making was a popular project station for over 250 children at Juneteenth. Participants were able to make actual bricks from scratch, experiencing a taste of manual labor in the 1800s. Other activities included making candles, blessing dolls, ice cream, and cooking hoe cakes.







Kitty Evans returned to the third annual YMCA Juneteenth for her portrayal of “Kessie-A Field Slave.” Giving life to the historical culture and lifestyle slaves lived pre-Civil War. Kessie told stories, sang, and let the younger Juneteenth participants play some of her instruments.






 Serve Fest


Brookwood Church provided a significant community service with its annual Serve Fest on Saturday, Nov. 17. Brookwood made split rail fences, constructed roofs for the horseshoe pit benches, cleared a huge amount of underbrush from the Austin Plantation Woods, poured cement for a new flagpole, built cedar benches, and created a new team building element for the Center.




Excavating history



Heritage Helpers and other youth groups have been a huge help in excavating the doctor's office that was buried at the Hollingsworth Outdoor Center. Come back soon for updates on what these explorers of history have found. 



Good Old Ways festival




 These days, it's not common to see a team of draft horses hauling huge tulip poplar logs out of a forest, although that's how lumber would have been collected in the late 19th century. We showed how they did it the old fashioned way at the Good Old Ways Day in August.




Time Travelers

Children have learned to use tools of the past, build their own workbox, made bricks, learned oral histories and wrote with a real ink pen.