Rose Hill Plantation sits not far from the Tyger River, in the Sumter National Forest. I arrived early that day, before the park opened, and inspected the river from a boat landing while I waited. The park itself isn’t large, but interesting. I first inspected the rose garden, circling the house as I did so. Going through the kitchen, a separate building, I admired the resident cat. I didn’t go inside the plantation house itself, but I’m sure it’s nice. As I child I’d been overdosed with the interiors of historical buildings and I don’t do tours well. Quick in, quick out or have the ability to linger where I want.
Rose Hill is one of three plantations that are part of the state park system. Besides this one there is Hampton SHS in Charleston County and Redcliffe SHS in Aiken County. Rose Hill is the plantation home of William Henry Grist who is known as the ‘Secession Governor’. He was elected governor of South Carolina in 1858 and believed the state could protect slavery only by withdrawing from the Union.
It is called Rose Hill for the variety of roses in the garden. The land was purchased by William Grist’s father, a merchant in Charleston. The exact date of the house seems to be unknown, but it’s between 1811 and 1830. It’s brick and the exterior walls are eighteen inches thick. Wow. It has a spiral staircase and a ballroom. The original size of the plantation was 7000 – 8000 acres.
Walking around the park, I had to wonder where exactly they grew the cotton and corn since it’s surrounded by trees. It’s a question I forgot to ask. The plantation was much larger than the 44 acres now owned by the state so I may not have even gone by the fields.
There are two trails. The nature trail is half a mile in length and rated easy. It goes through the woods and one comes out behind the mansion. The River trail is two miles and goes to the Tyger River. Due to all the rain I opted not to go all the way to the river. I’d already seen at the boat landing that the river was high.
The entrance to the park is free, but there is a fee to tour the house. Check the web site (link below) for more information on that.
How to Get There
From I-26:Take exit 44 onto Highway 49 toward Union. Continue through Cross Anchor to Cross Keys (approximately 5 miles). At Cross Keys take right hand fork onto Old Buncombe Road proceed 5 miles to junction with Galilee Church Road then left. Continue on Galilee Church Road for 3 miles to Rose Hill front gate. Proceed slowly on Galilee Church Road as it has a 30 mph hairpin corner and look for the William H. Gist family cemetery on left.
What’s Close By
Sumter National Forest
Molly’s Rock Picnic Area