Hardees plan ‘beautiful’ future for old Post Office
By Bobby Bryant
Why did the family of Darlington businessman Todd Hardee decide to buy the 105-year-old, 10,000-square-foot former Post Office building on Pearl Street? It was a combination of opportunity and duty, Hardee says.
“Step up to the table,” says Hardee, who runs Kistler-Hardee Funeral Home and South of Pearl restaurant in addition to serving as county coroner. “We’re all going to have to chip in to make Darlington what it once was.”
Hardee announced last week that he and his sons Templin and Sandy Hardee, who work with him at the funeral home, have purchased the massive Post Office building at 201 Pearl St.
It moved the town’s mail from 1915 until 2001, when a new Post Office was built across the street from the Darlington County School District headquarters and Darlington High School. Since then, the old Post Office has been mostly unused except for a period when small shops operated inside the building.
Todd Hardee said they bought the building from a Florence family who had acquired the old Post Office at auction by its original owner, the federal government. He declined to reveal the purchase price, but said the building’s appraised value was about $500,000.
Sandy and Templin Hardee said in a statement that preserving the building was their main reason for wanting to buy it. “This is a very important landmark in our town,” Sandy Hardee said. Added Templin Hardee: “It would be a shame to allow it to continue to crumble before our eyes.”
The brothers said: “Darlington is our home. We were born here and we are raising our families here. We were taught that we are to leave things better than we found them. This is the beginning of that quest. Darlington, if we are to survive and continue to be the Pearl of the Pee Dee, will need everybody to help. The Hardee Boys are all in!”
The Hardees have no immediate plans for the property except to “spruce it up.” Todd Hardee said that the building will be cleaned, the front of the property will be landscaped and the parking lot will be resealed and relined.
Beyond that, the Hardees said they plan to see what develops once the property is prepared for a new life. Templin Hardee said, “I have several ideas but whatever it is, it will be beautiful and it will be in keeping with the betterment of the town.” Todd Hardee emphasized that the building’s future use “will be pleasing to the eye” and appropriate to the town’s character.
Harriet Hobbs, president of the Greater Darlington Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber is “extremely excited” that the Hardees have acquired the old Post Office. “They have a deep-down love for this town, and they want to see Darlington continue to grow and flourish.”