The Abbeville Press and Banner reported on Dec. 30, 1896 – “A new firm will open in the storeroom just vacated by Mr. J.M. Lawson. The firm will be W.D. Barksdale (could be W.E. Barksdale) and Co., Mr. Barksdale has been known to many for years. Mr. Allen Smith, Jr. is also a member of this firm.”
City Directories and History: The Generals House
The McGowan-Barksdale-Bundy House was designed by Atlanta architect G.L. Norman and is an excellent example of the Queen Anne style, characterized by towers, turrets, multi-faceted roofs, the utilization of windows in different sizes and shapes and the use of various textures in exterior materials. It is often referred to locally as ‘The Generals’ House’ because two of its principle owners were Generals – Confederate Brigadier General Samuel McGowan and WWII General William E. Barksdale, the last owner to dwell in the house.
The outside of the house is painted with the Victorian multi-colors originally used, as determined by scientific paint analysis. Confederate General Samuel McGowan had this house built on the foundation of his Gothic Revival style house which was destroyed by fire in 1887. He had purchased the earlier house from the widow of Lt. Colonel James M. Perrin, CSA, who was killed at the battle of Chancellorsville.
The construction of the existing house was completed in 1888, as noted in the chimney display on the right side of the house. The house has 4 levels, (1) the basement level which houses 8 rooms where various domestic activities took place; (2) the main floor which consists of a large living hall, a library, a parlor, and a dining room; (3) the upstairs level which includes 4 bedrooms radiating from a central hall; (4) the commodious attic.
Many interesting architectural features can be found throughout the house such as built-in-furniture, pocket windows, a coffered ceiling, and windows of multi-colored glass. The influence of the 19th century English architect, Charles Locke Eastlake is seen in the abundant use of solid woods and in the simple and rectangular style of the woodwork.
The Servant Cabins
Behind the main house are 3 servant cabins. The first two cabins, closest in proximity to the back of the house, were built during the era of the Gothic Revival style house (circa 1857). The third cabin on the left was erected after the current house was constructed, probably around the early 1900’s. Each cabin consists of one room with several windows and a single entrance. All three were well constructed although the first two are more interesting architecturally with their very steep roofs and decorative gingerbread trim. The earlier two buildings with their original plaster walls are extremely rare and are among the few remaining servant cabins in the upstate.
General Samuel McGowan
At the time he built this house in 1887-88, General Samuel McGowan had distinguished himself as a staff captain in the Mexican War, as a successful lawyer, as a member of the S.C. House of Representatives, and as a Brigadier General leading McGowan’s Brigade in the Army of Northern Virginia of the Confederate Army. In 1879, he became an Associate Justice of the S.C. Supreme Court, a position he held until 1893. Upon retirement from the bench. McGowan spent his last years in this house, surrounded by family and friends. He died at home on August 9, 1897, and is buried in Long Cane Cemetery.
In 2005-06, the Society received a significant acquisition of General McGowan’s personal property and family items, including photographs, books, and silver from Mr. and Mrs. William McGowan Matthew. Mr. Matthew is the great-grandson of the General.
The Abbeville County Historical Society
The Society, founded in 1957, is dedicated to the preservation of materials and architectures which have historic significance to Abbeville County. The major purpose is to share all that is preserved with Abbeville County residents and visitors to the County, now and in the future. The current focus of the Society is to continue to preserve and restore the McGowan-Barksdale-Bundy House, which serves as Society headquarters, a museum, and the Jane Greene Center for the Arts. The house, a true architectural treasure, was graciously deeded to the Society by Mr. J.D. Bundy, of Monroe, N.C., in December 1989. Mr. Bundy purchased the property from the estate of his aunt and uncle, General and Mrs. William Barksdale. Mr. Bundy mandated that the property be maintained as a historic site and all of Abbeville County is indebted to him for his foresight and generosity. (The General’s House, brochure printed by the Abbeville County Historical Society)
- McGowan-Barksdale-Bundy House Historical Marker #1
- McGowan-Barksdale-Bundy House Historical Marker #2
- 211 Main Street
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