This Greek Revival home stands on a small bluff in historic Liberty Hill. Appearing almost as a church itself, the home was built in the early 1850s as the manse for Liberty Hill Presbyterian Church, founded in 1851. Though the present church was built in 1880 using salvaged material from the original antebellum sanctuary, the dwelling that housed the church’s earliest ministers remains in its original state.
The design of the home is elaborate for a church manse, reflecting the wealth of the community prior to the Civil War. Following the Revolutionary War, people began settling on a rural bluff in the countryside, establishing Liberty Hill. By the 1850s, Liberty Hill was one of the most affluent communities in South Carolina. According to the biography of the Reverend John Gardiner Richards, the minister of Liberty Hill Presbyterian Church in 1858 and presumed occupant of the manse, “The community was one of the wealthiest in the entire state. It was a community of large farm owners and every land owner was wealthy and owned many slaves. Mr. Richards used to say in late life he had traveled a great deal and had extensive experience, but he had never see such real elegance as was at Liberty Hill.”
Following the Civil War, Liberty Hill became economically depressed, taking decades to recover from poverty. While the small community remains charming to this day, vacant antebellum structures such as the manse stand of reminders of fleeting prosperity.
The Presbyterian Manse is listed in the National Register as part of the Liberty Hill Historic District:
A small rural community located on a high plateau, Liberty Hill visually and historically reflects both the life-style and the architecture of the pre-Civil War period as well as the turn of the twentieth century. There are several imposing Greek Revival structures, Greek Revival cottages, and an 1880s vernacular Gothic Revival church. The later, turn of the century residences are primarily one-stop, simple clapboard cottages. The town’s history begins as early as ca. 1813 when Peter Garlick’s store (location unknown) was a gathering place for surrounding farmers. Soon, impressive structures were built by planters in the area. Remaining from the 1830s are Cool Spring and the Joseph Cunningham House. The majority of the town’s antebellum buildings, however, were built ca. 1840-1850. During this period Liberty Hill was a very wealthy community. However, the final days of the Civil War ended that prosperity. Nevertheless, the town did eventually reassert itself and appears to have changed very little since the beginning of the twentieth century.
Interior Pictures of the Presbyterian Manse