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Rose Hill Plantation

Rose Hill Plantation  Image
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TRAVEL ADVISORY

All house tours are cancelled until further notice. 

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HOURS

Grounds: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., daily

Museum store: 4 to 5 p.m., daily

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ADMISSION

Grounds are free.

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PETS

Pets are allowed in most outdoor areas provided they are kept under physical restraint or on a leash not longer than six feet.

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No Wifi Available

Rose Hill Plantation State Historic Site

Midlands

History & Interpretation

  • Programs and Guided Tours: All house tours and programs are cancelled until further notice.
  • Burial Sites and Cemeteries: The Gist family cemetery is located a mile southwest of the state historic site. It is the final resting place for fourteen members of the Gist family, including William Henry Gist, Mary Elizabeth Gist and six of their 12 children.

    An African-American cemetery is located in Sumter National Forest just east of the Gist family cemetery. Unmarked stones placed here over 150 years ago stand as solemn tributes to the people enslaved by the Gists. No sign has been erected at the cemetery, but the park is exploring options for providing accessibility and interpretation at the site.
  • Historic Home: Yes
  • Historic Garden: Original elements of the 1800s garden include four magnolia trees, terracing, a brick wall topped with an ornamental iron fence, and some of the boxwoods. Other plantings date to the 1940s when Clyde Franks restored the garden. Today, the garden contains a variety of heirloom roses.

  • African American History: The vast majority of people who lived and worked at Rose Hill throughout its history have been African-American.

    By 1860, Rose Hill was one of the largest enslaved communities in Union District with as many as 178 people enslaved at once on this plantation. Most of these people labored in agriculture. Some enslaved people performed skilled trades. A few enslaved people worked in the Gist household and kitchen.

    Many of the people enslaved at Rose Hill left the plantation when they became free in 1865, though some chose to stay and forge a new life in freedom. Freedmen like Vardy and Clayborn Gist, who both stayed at Rose Hill as tenant farmers, enrolled in the state militia and registered to vote. Into the 1900s, the majority of tenant farmers at Rose Hill continued to be African-American. The last tenants were the Jeters, Glenns, and Bookers.
  • Civil War History: William Henry Gist served as governor of South Carolina just before the Civil War. One of his last acts was to call for a secession convention, which he attended the day after leaving office. On December 20, 1860, Gist and 169 other men signed the Ordinance of Secession, declaring the union dissolved between South Carolina and the United States. It was a defining moment in Gist’s public life, as well as a turning point in state and national history.

    Secession led to war. Three of the Gist sons enlisted in the Confederate Army. William and David served in the 15th South Carolina Infantry, while their older brother Richard served briefly in an undetermined unit. William was killed in action on November 18, 1863. Richard and David returned home safely.

    The Civil War transformed Rose Hill. The attempt to secede and form a new confederacy was defeated. The war’s end brought freedom to the 178 people that Gist owned.

  • National Register of Historic Places: Yes
  • Designation: The mansion was listed on the National Register on June 5, 1970.
  • When & How PRT Acquired: The state purchased Rose Hill for $25,000 in 1960 to commemorate the centennial of South Carolina’s secession. The previous owner, Clyde Franks, had been operating it as a historic site since the 1940s.


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