“Explore and preserve S.C. history, historic houses, & family stories…“
On Feb. 21, 2023 the founders-owners of Roots and Recall donated their collection of images, documents, and electronic data, to include the Roots and Recall website, to Winthrop University’s Pettus Archives.
In the summer of 2012, a group of historic enthusiast met and determined that a preservation website, dedicated to linking family data to a specific address, was needed, a ground breaking method of preserving local history – thus the Roots and Recall website was born. The idea was, that individuals hold far more historic images, records, journals, stories and memories than will ever be saved by local archives and museums. Therefore, there needed to be an avenue to share these non – institutional
collections, with families and the public, without endangering the original collections. R&R receives numerous collections each month and now works routinely with attorneys, auctioneers and institutions to safeguard collections. Thousands of documents and images have been digitized and shared, which would otherwise have deteriorated in attics or been thrown away by the next generation.
Besides offering a beautiful site to host these collections, R&R wanted to insure genealogist and researchers were also welcomed and had access to additional tools, such as; newspapers, library collections, Sanborn Maps, City Directories and much more. These are all found on each page as well as under the link menu. It was also important that we communicate with users and both the comment section.
Subsequently, R&R has grown to encompass all of South Carolina, with links to many other states, often dubbed the, “Wiki of House History“. As of 2017, R&R features approximately 34,000 pages, 250,000+ images – graphics, and routinely has thousands of monthly users. On January 26, 2017 Google Analytics, recorded the website as having over 31,500 pages read the previous month. An impressive usage ranking at #88,802 on (1.3.17), of over 876 million websites in the USA, makes it one of the most used history related websites in the southern US.
Lori Russell, the owner of the Patrick House, wrote R&R on, 10.22.16 “It was a pleasure working with R&R Co-Founders, Wade and Rusty. They were professional, personable, knowledgeable and always treated my collections with care and respect. Their passion and dedication to preserve the past shines through when working with them. I also look forward to working with Roots and Recall in the future.”
Address questions and comments: Winthrop University Pettus Archives, Rock Hill, S.C.
Historic Links and Threads – Icon
The TBHH icons (right), tagged as R&R’s history threads are a useful tool in connecting the many links provided by the website. Click on them to be redirected across
county lines and linked to alike subjects, family ties, etc. As a user, we encourage you to also provide comments (bottom of each page), to suggest improvements and other potential historic links.
This Building Has History – Program
The public and Roots & Recall’s users have noticed its icon along city streets; it is extensively used by the website to digitally link online historic data. The icon comes in several forms, including the QR code icon shown here; it can also be customized. The City of Rock Hill, S.C., is using the iconic phrase and design in their downtown to tell the story of the city.
In 2017 the TBHH program has been updated and is now found at TBHH.info, showcasing both Rock Hill’s downtown history in three tours as well as that of Fort Mill, S.C.
Digitally disseminating historical information through the use of the This Building Has History™, icon found in downtown windows, R&R’s blog posts, and other associated forms of distribution has proven popular; users clearly enjoy it. The distinct recognizable verbiage and design are useful in providing a seamless method to allow users access to vast amounts of information through both QR technology and linked pages. Currently, there are some 32,000 available sites on R&R for access through its online electronic database that relate information and images to users. It is also a valuable tool for use by commercial establishments to engage both customers and tourists.
The icon is available to individuals, cultural institutions, colleges, and municipalities for display as they build partnerships with R&R’s TBHH preservation program.
About Roots & Recall’s Founders
The founders of Roots and Recall, Wade B. Fairey and James I. “Rusty” Robinson III, are historic preservationists who each view the preservation of architecture and local history as vital to their lives. They both grew up in York County, South Carolina, in a culture in which family stories and traditions are valued. Both Rusty and Wade were taken by their families to visit the local historic village of Brattonsville as children in the early 60’s.
These visits were the beginning of a lifelong love of historical architecture for both. It was not until 1981 that the two men met for the first time at none other than the Homestead House, which had become part of the regional restoration of Historic Brattonsville.
Wade had just begun serving as the Executive Director of the museum, and Rusty came along with his young daughter to volunteer. Subsequently, the two became fast friends who looked at restoration with an avid interest in understanding the form and function of architecture. Over the years they created Architectural Forensics, LLC as a means of exploring historic buildings and picking them apart one board at a time. This collaboration resulted in the creation of a massive database on artisans from South Carolina prior to 1870, a treasure of photographs and information related to historic structures.
Both Rusty and Wade understand the importance of historic preservation. They are passionate about their work and have assisted private and publicly held historic sites and museums for over thirty-five years. It has been said of the two friends that “they argue like two old men”, but in reality they are usually teasing out minute construction details which have gone unnoticed by others for decades. The piecing together of the history of a structure through technological changes forged a deep appreciation for the artisans and the challenges they faced. After having examined hundreds of 18th and 19th century structures, the two came to realize that buildings reveal stories about those who were the architects, builders, and owners. Years of work have also shown the significance of what Rusty and Wade have termed the “Home-place Theory”’ which states that houses are more than buildings; they are the locations of our memories of multi generations who lived and enjoyed its shelter.
A home’s image is of paramount value in our ability to recall these memories and leads us to a better understanding of our heritage. A sense of place and the stories emanating from it are fundamental to all of us. This is why we cherish the images from our past. It is our hope that a visit to your family’s homeplace on Roots and Recall will be a moving experience.
Users of Roots and Recall will discover far more about who their ancestors were by linking documents related to specific addresses and structures than can be gained by simply reviewing a genealogical chart. Linking data with an address gives us a comprehensive image of our roots. Roots and Recall has established the validity of this concept by receiving it’s U.S. Patent and Trademarks in 2015, and also acknowledges the role a photographic image plays in stimulating recall of family and place. It is for this reason the website created by two friends is called “roots and recall”, a realization of their dream to preserve and share local history one address at a time.
As of 2017, both Rusty and Wade remain active in helping preserve local historic sites such as the Historic White Home in Rock Hill and other cultural institutions, including the Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Cultural and Heritage Museums of York County, South Carolina.
The founders of Roots and Recall on Feb. 21, 2003 donated their entire collection of images, data, documents and the Roots and Recall website to Winthrop University. It is to be used by the University and it’s Pettus Archives as a resource for continuing the preservation of local history; through the study of historic properties and the family links said addresses and sites offer.
Explore history, houses, and stories across S.C. Your membership provides you with updates on regional topics, information on historic research, preservation, and monthly feature articles. But remember R&R wants to hear from you and assist in preserving your own family genealogy and memorabilia.
Visit the Southern Queries – Forum to receive assistance in answering questions, discuss genealogy, and enjoy exploring preservation topics with other members. Also listed are several history and genealogical researchers for hire.
User comments welcome — post at the bottom of this page.