Rice cultivation in Georgetown County began in 1750 and for over a century rice proved to be a lucrative crop. The Rice Museum preserves and promotes this history through its exhibits and educational programs. It is located in the historic Old Market Building, which was built in 1848 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum also explores African American history. There is an exhibit exploring the remarkable story of teach Miss Ruby Forsythe (1905-1992), who, for decades, taught children in a one-room school on Pawley Island. Another exhibit is dedicated to Joseph Hayne Rainey, the first African American elected to the House of Representatives. The museum also explores maritime history. The remains of the oldest American-made boat, the Brown's Ferry Vessel, which is believed to have sunk between 1730-1740, is on display (it is also listed on the National Register). Right next to the museum is the Kaminski Hardware Building (1840s) which houses the vessel and contains an art gallery. Guided tours take visitors through both buildings.
The Old Market Building served as a law court, jail, and market to sell agricultural goods and animals; it was also a slave market.