About Us

Mission Statement

The Aiken County Historical Museum, under the direction of the Aiken County Historical Commission, collects, preserves, promotes, interprets, and exhibits the historical objects of Aiken County and its surrounds.

Vision Statement

The impact we strive to have is to be the county’s show place; become networked with other museums within the county; provide for sufficient professional staffing; be inclusive of the county’s history and its people; know what we have in our collections; create vibrant and educational programming; and have the ACHM be widely understood and appreciated by the public.

History of the Aiken County Historical Museum

History of the Museum

The Aiken County Historical Museum was formed by the Aiken County Historical Commission in 1970 as part of the state’s tricentennial celebration. The official dedication of the museum occurred on February 12, 1970 at the Aiken County Courthouse Jail and the museum opened to the public in July of that year. After fourteen years, the museum moved to its current building Banksia, a Winter Colony home at the corner of South Boundary Avenue and Newberry Street.

Banksia History

The building we know today as Banksia has been a home to four families from 1862 to 1951—the Gibsons, the Townsends, the Harringtons, and the Howes. The north section of the building was built around 1862 by Charleston merchant Adam Gibson. It was added onto by the subsequent families of William Townsend and Charles Harrington. In 1931, Richard Flint Howe of Long Island, NY, purchased what was then known as the Harrington house. He moved the 3,500 sq.ft. home to the north side of the 3.5 acre property and added 14,000 sq.ft. onto it for a total of 17,500 sq.ft. The newly combined home with 32 rooms and 13 bathrooms was named Banksia by Howe after the Lady Banks Rose that climbed its walls. The building served almost one hundred years as a private home, until 1952 when Banksia changed functions. With the creation of the Savannah River Site, the home was converted into a boarding house for the influx of new SRS employees.

By 1957 the building took on a completely new role as an institute for learning when Southern Methodist College moved in. However, by 1961 SMC left the site and the University of South Carolina opened a satellite campus in Aiken at Banksia. In 1971 USCA moved to a larger location and the Aiken County Public Library opened its doors to the families of Aiken County in Banksia. Within the building, there was also room for a growing museum and in 1984 the museum moved into the 1862 section of Banksia. After years of simultaneous growth, the library departed in early 1989 for more spacious quarters and the museum assumed the entire 17,500 sq.ft. and 3.5 acres of Banksia in 1992.

Today, every square inch of Banksia is utilized to preserve the history of our county. It is our pleasure to welcome an average of 20,000 visitors each year—from locals to travelers from every continent in the world, excluding Antarctica. As we celebrate our 50th anniversary in 2020, we welcome the public to celebrate our county’s amazing history!

Museum Staff

Lauren Virgo edited

Lauren Virgo

Executive Director

Lauren Virgo is a lifelong resident of Aiken County. She went to Clemson University and received an undergraduate degree in History with a minor in Fine Arts. She then received her Master's degree in Art History with a certificate in Museum Management from the University of South Carolina. Ms. Virgo has worked in area museums since 2005. She became the director of the Aiken County Historical Museum in December 2018 after working as the museum's collections manager for a year and a half.

Lauren Virgo


Melanie Sigman

Collections Manager

Melanie Sigman was born and raised in Georgia, coming to South Carolina to begin her career. She earned an undergraduate degree in Museum Studies from Tusculum University in Tennessee, a Masters in Public History from the University of West Georgia and her MLIS from the University of Alabama. She has worked in various museums and archives since 2013 in everything from administrative duties to exhibits and tours. She became the collections manager of the Aiken County Historical Museum in November 2023 after working for the State Archives for 2 years. She is excited to get back to her favorite part of working in museums: taking care of the collections!

Melanie Sigman

Mary Rosbach

Mary Rosbach

Operations & Education Manager

Mary was raised in Lexington, SC and upon graduating high school, attended USC Aiken. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and was employed with the City of Aiken for almost ten years overseeing staff, facility management, and programming. Mary fell in love with Aiken (and her husband John, a lifelong resident) and has lived here since 2009. They have two daughters (Robyn, age 8 and Kathryn, age 2). Mary has always enjoyed history and is happy to have joined the team.

Mary Rosbach

Mini, Ian_edited

Ian Mini

Events & Volunteer Manager

Ian Mini is a recent graduate of the University of South Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology in Tampa, Florida. Tampa is where he spent most of his life until he recently moved here to Aiken in the summer of 2019. Ian serves as the weekend supervisor of the Aiken County Historical Museum and he has a special interest in the history of Graniteville and the natural history of Aiken County. He also loves all things related to music. Feel free to say “hello” and to talk all things Aiken, music, and nature with him on the weekends.

Ian Mini

Harmon Deborah

Deborah Harmon

Weekend Manager

When Deborah moved to Aiken from her native Michigan in 2022 she brought with her over 25 years of professional experience in museums as well as serving as Historian for Madison County NY. Her most recent position as Executive Director of the Tuxedo Historical Society introduced her to the many connections between Tuxedo Park NY and Aiken's Winter Colony. Living in Aiken allows Deborah to pursue her strong interest in history and horses. She also enjoys photography, Scottish genealogy, and her two vizslas. Says Deborah, "I am honored to have a small part in sharing Aiken history and thrilled to work at Banksia".

Deborah Harmon

Historical Commission

Historical Commissioners of the Aiken County Historical Museum

  • District 1: Cynthia Hardy, Wagener, SC
  • District 2: Jason Crane, Aiken, SC
  • District 3: Geneva Greene, Warrenville, SC
  • District 4: Dan Reece, North Augusta, SC
  • District 5: Daniel Andrews, Aiken, SC
  • District 6: George Greive, Aiken, SC
  • District 7: Deedee Vaughters, Aiken, SC
  • District 8: RaShad Gaines, Aiken, SC
  • Member-at-Large: Phillip Strawbridge, North Augusta, SC

Contact Us @ the Museum

Aiken County Historical Museum

433 Newberry St. SW | Aiken, SC 29801

Phone: 803.642.2015

Hours of Operation:

Tuesday – Saturday | 10 am – 5 pm

Sunday | 2 pm – 5 pm

Admission is Free


The Aiken County Historical Museum, under the direction of the Aiken County Historical Commission, collects, preserves, promotes, interprets, and exhibits the historical objects of Aiken County and its surrounds.

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