It’s been a number of years since my first visit to Rose Hill Plantation State Historic Site, and they have definitely made some restorations since then. Paint in a number of rooms has been restored to the original colors, the exterior has been repainted, and the tour was much more detailed. The only difference in the tour is this current tour does not take you to the third level, it is no longer open to the general public (my eldest at our last visit loved seeing the peep holes that were used to see outside / protect the mansion in times of trouble.
The trip was much more enjoyable than last time, simply due to the kiddos ages. Last time I had a nursing baby in tow, gear, and a not so enthusiastic 2nd grader. Now that we homeschool and I knew what the kids had studied in history (our favorite immersion), the kiddos are older – it was so much more enjoyable. They were able interact with the Park Ranger, ask good questions, and explore with curiosity and not boredom.
There a picnic shelter, a short .5 mile hiking trail (attached to another 2 mile trail to the river…we didn’t try that one yet), restrooms and a water fountain. Three of the on-site buildings are thought to be restored originals, and the rest are replicas. The original owner, William H. Gist, was known as the “Succession Governor” because of his involvement in South Carolina in the years leading up to succession.
The kids loved the hands-on aspects (and not-so-much the “don’t touch” aspect of the main house…but did enjoy themselves!) of some of the features, like the above water buckets. There were also a couple of games they could test out that the kids of the time would have played.
The kitchen made my homesteader self drool… the detail was great and it lead to a number of conversations with the kids about familiar looking items, and how things were done during that time period.
The gardens were unfortunately not what the were when I went years ago, however, there is a new park ranger who plans to focus on the gardens and heirloom roses more. The old trees were huge and gorgeous though!
The dining room displays a typical menu of the time, along with dinner plates full of samples meals (very realistic looking too, I might add. You can almost smell it!).
The history behind photographs and portraits are both interesting pieces of history too… the odd head = pre-painted backgrounds & bodies for the family to choose from before the artist places the head on it (check out the background in that portrait. Doesn’t really look like South Carolina, uh??), and the grim smiles in photographs trying to hold still for the 10 minute picture to take.
While you can’t to into the replica houses, you can look through the roped-off door.
Overall a fun trip. The tour of the house definitely makes it worth it. There is a small fee associated with touring the house, if you do not have your Park Passport ($5.00 / adults). For pass holders it’s free. To walk the grounds or trails, it’s free to all.