This home in Starr, circa 1923, overlooks the rural landscape of southern Anderson County. The surrounding property, known as Evergreen, was owned during the first half of the nineteenth century by Samuel Girard Earle. Earle, who also owned a town home in Anderson of the same name, was one of Anderson County’s earliest residents, witnessing the county’s formation in 1826.
Samuel Earle purchased the land in 1828 from Samuel Smith. He then not only operated a plantation, but also established grist mills and a cotton gin on the property, which at the time numbered thousands of acres. Earle sold many of his products in a general store that he also owned and ran. Another venture of Earle’s was printing; he owned a printing business and published a weekly newspaper featuring religious, political, and agricultural news. Legend has it that Earle once printed the Bible in its entirety, complete with annotations.
Following his death in 1848, Evergreen came under the ownership of Samuel Earle’s oldest living son, Elias John Earle. The younger Earle lived on the plantation, but in a different home than his father’s (neither of which remain extant). During the Civil War, Elias Earle and his slaves – in particular, a slave named Thomas Jefferson who lived to be 102 – ground mill for Confederate soldiers. Over the years the Evergreen property was subdivided, and different Earle descendants lived in various dwellings on the property. Much of the land, however, was sold to outside families.
In the 1990s the Faulkenberry family purchased this 40-acre portion of the former Evergreen estate as both a private home and a site for their daughter’s wedding. Restoration work included renovating the Neoclassical home, seen at the top of the page. Originally known as the Earle Home, the house was not built until 1923. It replaced an earlier house on the Evergreen property called Ingleside, which burned in 1920. At one point a grist mill supplied the home with electricity.
After their daughter’s wedding, the family decided to create a venue for other couples wishing to tie the knot. They landscaped the property and added several modern buildings to accommodate guests. Meetings and retreats are also held at Evergreen Plantation in the Carriage House, pictured second to last on this page. With a dining room, sitting room, and two guest bedrooms, the Carriage House provides quarters for a small business gathering or a corporate getaway.
The outbuildings on the revitalized farm are not original but include a lodge, a cabin, and a carriage house. The Evergreen Lodge, pictured above, stands at more than 10,000 square feet and serves as a space for receptions and banquets. The Bridal Cottage, seen below, provides a place for the bride and her court to prepare.
These photos, taken by frequent contributor and professional photographer Vanessa Kauffmann, capture the history of the working fields as well as the covered bridge and modern facilities added to the property for use as an event site. Lodging and gathering space is designed to complement the property’s rustic character.
Evergreen once encompassed a huge swath of land, and other portions are today owned by various neighbors. Darlene Roach owns 600 acres of the former plantation. Her land features one of the oldest cotton gins in the state as well as a compound of agricultural buildings. She now rents the property to a group of farmers who raise cows and grow Coastal Bermuda Hay. Mrs. Roach also owns a local nightclub named Wendell’s Dippin Branch, in honor of her late husband, and Shallows Farm in nearby Starr. At 235 acres, Shallows Farm is home to the iconic but crumbling Shiloh School.
For guests looking for a little adventure during their free time, Evergreen is located just east of popular Lake Hartwell. Fishing and watersports are favorite pastimes on this beloved lake. For others wishing to simply enjoy the panoramic countryside, there is no shortage of natural beauty surrounding Evergreen.