Founded in 1911, the City of Hardeeville is now said to be the fastest-growing city in the Southeast. Really, the history of this vibrant community goes back much further than its incorporation as a municipality.
Native Americans first inhabited the shores of the Savannah River near the present-day Millstone Landing. The area was briefly settled by Swiss Huguenots but their settlement of Purrysburg only lasted a decade as residents were drawn away by Oglethorpe's nearby Savannah.
Hardee's descendant, White William Hardee, took advantage of the railroad by founding Hardee's Station on the Charleston and Savannah Railroad. The rail line followed the same path as the current CSX railroad through town and the station was located just behind present-day St. Anthony's Catholic Church on Highway 17. The new station spurred growth in the surrounding city and the name Hardee's Station was soon changed to Hardeeville.
The early part of the 20th century found timber king in Hardeeville as the Argent Lumber Company opened for business on September 1st, 1916. Argent operated four railroad engines and the Hardeeville Mill becoming the leading employer of the City until 1959 when the lumber mill and railroad cars closed down. Right by the Old City Hall on Main St, sits the Argent train No. 7, which stands as a testament to Argent Lumber's influence on the city. Timber companies continued to own much of the land around Hardeeville but the timber and jobs were shipped elsewhere.
After Argent closed down, the city relied on tourism from motorists passing through on U.S. Route 1 and then Interstate 95. Hotels and restaurants served travelers with a good night's rest, home cooking, and southern hospitality. The hotels evolved from individually operated hotels of the fifties to the national franchise chains we have today, but the focus stayed on serving people passing through Hardeeville.
Hardeeville as a way-point instead of a destination began to change in the late 1990s. The timber industry became more efficient and the land they owned around Hardeeville grew in value due to its closeness to Savannah and Hilton Head. Realizing they could make more by selling the land than growing trees on it, the timber companies sold it in large tracts to various developers. These five tracts became the backbone of the sustainable growth that Hardeeville is now going through.
As Hardeeville moves into this new century it is primed to become a leading city in South Carolina. The future of Hardeeville will be written with a sharp eye on its history. As the population doubles, then triples, and then quadruples, citizens and city planners will work to ensure that the small-town roots and strong sense of community continue to be its cornerstone.
Hardeeville Street Names
The Hardeeville Historical Society has conducted extensive research to discover and document the origin of the names of several of the streets in the city of Hardeeville. View the Hardeeville Street Names Document (PDF).