Saturday, June 22, 2013

The mystique of Fort Hill

[Image: 640px-Fort_Hill%2C_Clemson_SC.jpeg]

The mystique of Fort Hill

By Jeff Danforth-Manning
The Daily Magi
September 3, 2047


Fort Hill, also known as the John C. Calhoun Mansion and Library, is a National Historic Landmark in South Carolina which was once the home of John C. Calhoun. It is now part of Clemson University.

The home was originally built as a four-room house about 1803 and was called Clergy Hall by Dr. James McElhenny, who was the pastor of Hopewell Presbyterian Church. The home later became the home of John C. Calhoun and his wife Floride Calhoun in 1825. Calhoun enlarged it to fourteen rooms and renamed it Fort Hill for nearby Fort Rutledge, which was built around 1776. The architectural style is Greek revival with Federal detailing and with simple interior detailing.

After Calhoun's death in 1850, the property passed to his wife to be shared with three of her children: Cornelia, John, and Anna Maria, wife of Thomas Green Clemson. Anna sold her share to Floride Calhoun. Floride Calhoun sold the plantation to her son, Andrew Pickens Calhoun, and held the mortgage. After Andrew died in 1865, she filed for foreclosure against Andrew's heirs prior to her death in 1866. After lengthy legal proceedings, the plantation was auctioned at Walhalla in 1872. The executor of her estate won the auction, which was divided among her surviving heirs. Her daughter, Anna Clemson, received the residence with about 814 acres (329 ha) and her great-granddaughter, Floride Isabella Lee, received about 288 acres (117 ha). Thomas Green and Anna Clemson moved into Fort Hill in 1872. After Anna's death in 1875, Thomas Green Clemson inherited Fort Hill. In his 1888 will, Clemson bequeathed more than 814 acres (329 ha) of the Fort Hill estate to the State of South Carolina for an agricultural college with a stipulation that the dwelling house "shall never be torn down or altered; but shall be kept in repair with all articles of furniture and vesture... and shall always be open for inspection of visitors." Clemson University has operated Fort Hill as a house museum as stipulated in the will.

The home was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960.

The South Carolina Department of Archives and History states: "The Greek Revival mansion and office are all that remain from the former 1,100-acre (450 ha) plantation with many outbuildings."

Fort Hill was closed for a two-year restoration project and was reopened in spring of 2003. Fort Hill was named a national treasure by the Save America's Treasures program, and its artifacts are currently undergoing a comprehensive conservation program funded by this federal grant and matching funds.

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