Rose Hill Plantation Historic, Union

#40 of 74 in Nature in South Carolina
Must see · State Park · Historic Site
Rose Hill Plantation State Historic Site is a historic site in Union County, South Carolina, that preserves the home of William H. Gist (1807-1874), the 68th governor of South Carolina. Gist helped instigate a Secession Convention in South Carolina, which led to the creation of the Ordinance of Secession that preceded the Civil War.

William Gist was the natural son of Francis Fincher Gist (c. 1773-1819), a Charleston merchant and South Carolina state representative, who by 1811 had purchased land in Upstate South Carolina. Either Francis Fincher or William Henry built a Georgian-style brick house (c. 1811-1830), eventually called Rose Hill after the many varieties of roses planted in its formal gardens.

In the late 1850s and early 1860s, William Gist remodeled the house, adding two-tiered back and front porches and stuccoing the brick in order to transform the exterior into the more fashionable Greek revival-style. The final house had three stories, the first two used as living quarters and the third a mixture of living and storage areas. According to the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Rose Hill featured "more refined ornamentation than usually found in upcountry houses of the period." A spiral staircase led to the second floor, which included a ballroom with two fireplaces so that the space could be converted into two bed chambers to accommodate guests.
During Gist's term of office (1858-1860), the house served as the governor's mansion. From Rose Hill, Gist wrote the governors of Louisiana, North Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida, suggesting that if Abraham Lincoln were elected President, South Carolina might take the lead in seceding from the Union.
Rose Hill was a working plantation of about 2,000 acres (8.1 km2) where enslaved laborers grew cotton, corn, and oats. (There were approximately 20 slaves in 1820, 82 in 1840, and 178 in 1860). After slavery was abolished at the end of the Civil War, the plantation was farmed by tenant farmers and sharecroppers.
Gist died in 1874, but the mansion and land remained in the Gist family, though both were leased to tenants. In 1938 the US Forest Service purchased Rose Hill, and it became part of the Sumter National Forest. In 1942 Clyde T. Franks (1885-1970), a representative of the Federal Land Bank and an antique collector from Laurens, South Carolina, purchased the house and 44 acres (0.18 km2) from the Forest Service; and in the following year, he opened the house to the public, restoring it and the gardens and adding period furniture. In 1960, Franks sold the property to the South Carolina State Park Service.
The park includes restrooms, a picnic shelter, and a small gift shop. A brick kitchen built in the 1850s is the only other antebellum structure on the property. The location of the slave quarters is unknown. A one-and-a-quarter mile nature trail runs through both park and Forest Service property and extends to the Tyger River. The Gist family cemetery is about one mile south of the mansion.
PutRose Hill Plantation Historic into our Union trip itinerary planner and find out what's close by, where to stay, and where to head next.
Create an itinerary including Rose Hill Plantation Historic
© OpenMapTiles © OpenStreetMap contributors

Rose Hill Plantation Historic reviews

Rate this attraction
TripAdvisor traveler rating
TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
54 reviews
  • We drove for miles through much of the Sumter National Forrest and even a detour to reach this historic site of a past SC Governor. The grounds are massive and include a beautiful historic home...  more »
  • This is still a beautiful plantation. Its been 9 years since I last visited-still a great park. The house outside and within are still maintained in great shape. The ranger was very friendly. Stopped....  more »
  • Didn't get a lot of time here. But it was a beautiful property. When we arrived a tour was already in progress. We got some pictures and had to move our due to scheduling. They also had some hiking trails nearby which in the fall leaves would have been beautiful.
  • Beautiful place! The park ranger was really nice and gives tours of the house. A great historical site!

Plan your trip to Union

  • Get a personalized trip
    A complete day by day itinerary
    based on your preferences
  • Customize it
    Refine your trip. We'll find the
    best routes and schedules
  • Manage it
    Everything in one place.
    Everyone on the same page.