South Carolina Picture Project

Vallentines Gin & Store — Cope, South Carolina

SC Picture Project  |  Orangeburg County  |  Vallentines Gin & Store

This general store and adjacent cotton gin in the Orangeburg County town of Cope have been operating since 1911. Established by J.I. Vallentine, the store and gin have been central to the town founded by Jacob Martin Cope in 1894.

Vallentine's Gas Station

Michael Mascari of Blythewood, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The store and train depot have been the center of the town’s activities for more than a century, and people still flock to both to experience small-town life as it was in the early twentieth century.

Vallentines Gin

Sara Dean of Moncks Corner, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Vallentine’s son, Robert, took over running the store in 1937 along with his sister, Henry Ella. They replaced the original store with the current building in 1940. The brother-and-sister team attracted visitors to the old-timey store and gin, pictured above and below, until their deaths in the 1980s.

Vallentines Gin Interior

Sara Dean of Moncks Corner, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Since then, Robert’s daughter, Jo Helen Riley, has been minding the store, still drawing folks to ginning demonstrations and offering tours to travelers winding through the town’s country roads. Below, a cotton warehouse beside the gin boasts loyalty to the Clemson Tigers.

Vallentines Warehouse

Sara Dean of Moncks Corner, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Incidentally, Riley is also the great-granddaughter of Jacob Martin Cope. The store is no longer open on a daily basis, but people can call ahead to view displays of wares from throughout the twentieth century.


Ann Helms of Spartanburg © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Hurricane Matthew swept through South Carolina on October 8, 2017, leaving a wake of destruction in its path. Sadly, a casualty of the storm was the Cope cotton gin, seen below.

Cope Gin Hurricane Damage

Sara Dean of Moncks Corner, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

More Pictures of Vallentine’s Gin & Store

Vallentine's Store

Treva Thomas Hammond of Rock Hill, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Vallentine's Gas Station Pumps

Michael Mascari of Blythewood, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Reflections Vallentine’s Gin & Store

Contributor Treva Thomas Hammond shares her experience growing up in Cope: “Vallentines was established in the early 1900s as a cotton gin and general store. I remember going there as a young girl and buying hoop cheese slices from the Mr. Vallentine. The store sold everything from cheese and bologna to hardware items. Today, the sign in the window states that customers can call ahead to see items from the past. On the cold February morning that I took this picture, it seemed as if I had fallen back into the past.”

Add your own reflections here.

Vallentines Gin & Store Info

Address: 132 Cotton Avenue, Cope, SC 29038
GPS Coordinates: 33.378519,-81.006751

Vallentines Gin & Store Map

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