The house is far older than the town where it stands, and almost as old as the country. Its history stretches back more than 200 years, and according to tradition it once served as a stopping place for stagecoaches. Now, Lexington County’s Hartley House has been given new life as an event venue, thanks to the work of a local couple.
Owner and Venue Manager Crystal Mustard and her husband heard from her sister last year that the then-owners of Hartley House in Batesburg-Leesville were interested in selling.
“We looked at it and just instantly fell in love,” Mustard said. “And I saw a vision for this place, that this would be an amazing wedding venue.“
Not many venues can offer the history of Hartley House, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Originally built around 1790, it has stood in its current form since 1830. The Bonds-Bates-Hartley retained ownership for more than two centuries before selling it in 2015.
Mustard says the house lends itself perfectly to hosting weddings and other events.
“The house itself is a Greek revival farmhouse. So the four rooms on the bottom are the same size and the same layout as the four rooms upstairs. And they're about 300 square feet each,” she explained. The setup allows easy adjustments for small or large groups, and Mustard and her husband are hard at work to make even larger events possible.
“We're actually renovating our entire backyard and putting in more of a hardscape area for a reception site,” she said, adding that they hope to have that work finished by the end of this summer. “Then if you have 150 to 200 people, you expand to the outside. We're planning to get a really huge tent and then do some really nice hardscaping and landscaping out there.”
Mustard, who has a background in event management and fundraising, is the only full-time employee at Hartley House, with her engineer husband lending a hand when needed in the new family business. The Mustards are both natives of the Midlands, and now live in Batesburg-Leesville, a place they’re happy to call home and eager to show off to visitors.
“Everyone in this town wants you to be here. Everyone is doing their best to get people to come out this way and show people what Batesburg-Leesville has to offer. This is the most supportive community of anywhere I've ever lived. Every restaurant you eat at, every store you go in, there's always a smiling friendly face. This is such a great little town,” Mustard said. “Most people only know about Shealy's Bar-B-Que and the Poultry Festival. I would love for people to know there's more to do out here than that, like some great, cute little boutiques in downtown Leesville.”
In addition to hosting weddings, the Mustards are planning to throw a holiday party at Hartley House this year, as well as other special events open to the public. Through it all, they’re making sure, especially with weddings, to offer something people can afford.
“We've been able to renovate it and offer it at such an affordable price too, because it's almost impossible to have a wedding on a decent budget these days,” Mustard said. “We’re not like the budget venue, but our pricing is very competitive.”
Hartley House offers all-inclusive packages for events, but the owners are very flexible.
“It’s all inclusive if you want that, but we don't require it. If you want to use your own vendors it is totally fine with us, but if you wanted us to do everything for you, we could do that as well. So you really have options here,” Mustard said.
Before there was a Batesburg, a Leesville, or a Columbia, the Hartley House was there. Before the turn of the 19th century, a family welcomed guests in the beautiful home. Now, in 2022, the Mustards are welcoming them again.
For more information, visit hartleyhouseevents.com.