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UFO Welcome Center in Bowman Burns Down: South Carolina’s Oddest Attraction Gutted

UFO-themed fire aftermath.

UFO Welcome Center in Bowman Burns Down, Gutting South Carolina’s Oddest Attraction

BOWMAN — The famed UFO Welcome Center in Bowman, one of South Carolina’s oddest tourist attractions, has burned to the ground. A fire took down the hulking structure in the early morning of May 9. Crews from several area departments battled to save the center, but to no avail. All that was left were smoldering ruins of wood and metal.

Owner’s Response

Jody Pendarvis, who built the UFO Welcome Center in his backyard, said he doesn’t know what started the fire, and he’s not hopeful officials will figure out how it started. It’s a total loss, he said, including the trailer he lives in. “Maybe another UFO came by and set the fire,” Pendarvis told The Post and Courier four hours after the blaze, as he ate breakfast at a nearby diner.

Local Reaction

The fire began at 6:30 a.m., Pendarvis said. He doesn’t suspect foul play but marveled at the ferocity of the blaze. “I can’t believe it went up so quick,” he said of the “huge fire.” Bowman residents stopped their vehicles on the streets and at a nearby parking lot to gawk at the still smoking ruins. “A lot of tourists will miss it,” said an observer.

Memories of the Center

Johnna Hansen, a Summerville resident who has visited the site multiple times, recalled the quirky tours Jody used to give, charging visitors 25 cents for a “tour”. “It was hilarious,” Hansen recalled. “It was a wonderful little roadside attraction and oddity. I’m really sad that it’s gone.”

What is the UFO Welcome Center?

The UFO Welcome Center, built by Pendarvis over the past 25 years to greet aliens, brought people from across the nation to this tiny outpost about an hour from Charleston. The structure included a narrow hallway entrance, a dome-shaped room with pie plates as porthole windows, and exposed wires and cables throughout.

The Beginning

The welcome center began in 1994 as an office space outside of Pendarvis’ trailer. It sprang up without any plans, just a place where he could work. Over time, the structure morphed into the 16-foot-tall, 46-foot-wide welcome center.

UFO Welcome Center in Bowman Burns Down: South Carolina's Oddest Attraction Gutted

HERE Charleston
Author: HERE Charleston

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