By far my favorite roadside attraction from our southern road trip, the Button King Museum represents the eccentric life’s work of 84 year old Dalton Stevens, the self styled “Button King.”
In 1983, when insomnia kept him awake far after TV programming cut off at 2am, Steven’s search for entertainment led him to start sewing buttons on a denim suit, the beginning of a prodigious button sewing (and gluing) career. His museum sits in front of his house, off a country road near Bishopville, South Carolina, and houses the original denim suit, two cars, an outhouse, a coffin (that he hopes to be buried in), and more button covered odds and ends.
The museum seems to be open pretty much any time Stevens is home, and he was quick to come down and say hello when he noticed we’d stopped. He was incredibly sweet, happy to answer questions and pose for photos after donning his button uniform. Not at all media shy, he offered to sing a song and encouraged me to record it. (Check out the video at the bottom of the post).
The walls of the museum are covered with memorabilia from his media appearances, at its height in the late 80s and early 90s. He was even sent on a promotional tour of Japan by the Iris Button Co! Now a widower and less active in the media, he says he loves the company from visitors to his museum…seriously, go visit this man!
The coffin that Stevens hopes to be buried in. He damaged his first button coffin when he accidentally locked himself in after climbing in for a nap!
The Button King Museum
Address: 55 Joe Dority Rd, Bishopville, SC
Hours: no formal hours, the museum seems to be open whenever Stevens is home. Roadside America says you can call 803-236-6096 to check before you visit.
Admission: free, but donations are accepted