TRAVELERS REST, S.C. — The Anderson/Gibson home, formerly known as The Spring Park Inn, and the approximately 20-acre property surrounding it was gifted to the Travelers Rest Historical Society, it was announced this week.
The home is located just off of Main Street in the center of town, behind the gazebo and along the Swamp Rabbit Trail. It will be protected from development and transformed into a museum and park, according to Historical Society officials.
The gift was made possible by Nell Anderson Gibson, who passed away in November of last year.
Believed to have originally been built in the 1820s, the home was expanded into a large, 14-room residence by Chevis Montgomery in 1851. The home operated as an inn during the Civil War, continuing for years after it was purchased by Col. Robert Wright Anderson in 1873. When the Swamp Rabbit Railroad was in its prime, the railroad company built a picnic and dancing pavilion on the property, which was connected to the railway by a loading platform in front of the house.
In February of 2018, the home was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Administered by the National Park Service, the register is the United States federal government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation for their historical significance. In 2019, the home was recognized to be of significant historical importance by Greenville County and added to the county’s register. (Video of the presentation is below.)
(Pictured: Greenville County Councilman Joe Dill with Nell Anderson Gibson. November, 2019.)
According to Ed Neves, Gibson's cousin and the spokesperson for the Anderson/Gibson family, the gift was conveyed after much consideration by Gibson, noting that it was not a "spur-of-the-moment decision."
“It took several years of due diligence on [Gibson’s] part to find the right conservation stewards of her family property,” Neves said, adding that Gibson's dream was to preserve the history of her family home and to show the role the Spring Park Inn and the railroad played in the development of Travelers Rest.
"Over the years, she was approached by many developers and realtors, but remained determined to preserve this precious piece of history," Neves said.
Restoration plans are already underway for the home to become a museum and educational space, and the agreement includes a conservation easement through conservation group Upstate Forever, ensuring the property will be permanently preserved from development. Upstate Forever was also able to secure a grant from the South Carolina Conservation Bank for work on the home.
"The Travelers Rest Historical Society recognizes this as a great treasure and a wonderful legacy,” said Rosemary Bomar, Travelers Rest Historical Society president. “We are honored to have been entrusted as stewards of this gift and are so thankful to Nell and her family for their generosity and foresight in planning for this preservation."
The Historical Society is accepting donations for the preservation and maintenance of the home and property. Individual and corporation donations can be made here.
Historical research for this article was provided by Kyle Campbell of Preservation South. Campbell is also leading the restoration work on the home.
GREENVILLE COUNTY HISTORIC REGISTER PRESENTATION (November, 2019):
RELATED ON THE TRAVELERS REST TRIBUNE:
TOUR TRAVELERS REST: Anderson Home/Spring Park Inn (Courtesy of the Travelers Rest Historical Society)
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