COLUMBIA, S.C. – The Travelers Rest Historical Society was recently recognized with an award for their work on the restoration of the former Spring Park Inn, located behind the gazebo along the Swamp Rabbit Trail in downtown Travelers Rest.
The inn was one of the oldest in Greenville County and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Greenville County Historic Register.
The Preservation Honor Award was presented at a ceremony in Columbia on June 27 by Preservation South Carolina, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting historic and irreplaceable architectural heritage across the state, and the S.C. Dept. of Archives and History.
The award ceremony "recognized exceptional accomplishments in the preservation, rehabilitation, and interpretation of [South Carolina's] architectural and cultural heritage" with a series of statewide awards, including the honor awards which celebrated "successful and exemplary historic preservation projects" in the state.
At the event, president Rosemary Bomar received the award on behalf of the Travelers Rest Historical Society. Also recognized were recipients Kyle Campbell of Preservation South, who directed the restoration; John Carroll of Green Build LLC, who completed much of the custom woodwork; and Jason Russo, of Jason Russo Painting and Wallpaper.
The home and the approximately 20-acre property surrounding it were gifted to the Travelers Rest Historical Society, made possible by former owner Nell Anderson Gibson, who passed away in November of 2020.
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.
"The Travelers Rest Historical Society recognizes this as a great treasure and a wonderful legacy,” Bomar said at the time. “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."
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.
The property is being protected from development and transformed into a museum and park, according to Historical Society officials, who said the house is being restored to highlight it as it would have been in the 1890s and early 1900s, which was they "heyday" of the inn.
As an example, the exterior paint was filed down to discover the original layers of paint. Those chips were used to determine and match the 1800s-era colors of the house, according to Preservation South's Kyle Campbell.
It was not possible to create bright white paint then, so the early paint resembled the cream color that is being used along with the green and burgundy trim that was popular during the Victorian Era, Campbell said.
"The Historical Society thanks these craftsmen and the many others who have contributed to the restoration," said Bomar, adding that they will be recognized at ceremonies when the Spring Park Inn officially opens for public tours.
To learn more about the Spring Park Inn and/or to make a donation toward its preservation and maintenance, visit the Travelers Rest Historical Society website here.
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