City Directories and History: “Coming now to Black (formerly Church) Street, we recall that the brick residence of Capt. and Mrs. R. H. McCosh stood to the east.of the Owens-Rhea house, opposite what is now the terminus of Oakland Avenue. This was a one-story house of excellent design. It is obvious that this house was designed by a man trained in architecture, probably Mr. William Challenger, an English immigrant to America who lived in Rock Hill in the 1870’s. This house was built in the year 1872. Mrs. McCosh was born Jane McFadden in Chester County, S.C. She had several children: Della, who married Newton P. Alexander; and Edgar Holden McCosh, who died at age fourteen. His was the first grave to be opened in Laurelwood Cemetery, Rock Hill. When this house was built, it was actually two houses: the first part of four rooms (parlor and three bedrooms), and then there was what we would call today a breezeway and then two rooms (the dining room and the kitchen). Mr. McCosh was principal bookkeeper for the mercantile firm of W. L. Roddey & Company. At his death, his widow removed to Chester, where her relatives lived. After her move to Chester, Mrs. Louise (Owens) Rhea bought the property and closed in the breezeway. The old house was completely restored by the lawyers Robert L. McFadden and Samuel B. Mendenhall. Congressman Tom S. Gettys once maintained an office there.” [Robbins – White Tour Booklet]
The house is significant as a representative form of residential architecture of the early period of Rock Hill’s development. Built as the home of a member of the rising merchant class, it is the oldest brick home in Rock Hill. The oldest house still existing from the post-Civil War period of growth and the only house left in the immediate downtown area. The architecture is representative of a simple late Victorian period cottage. (The McCosh House is a one story brick house with hipped roof, façade has three bays, gable extension to the rear. The kitchen and a dining room wing which was originally detached has been connected by a breezeway. The interior contains the original woodwork and mantels and many of the original window sashes remain.)
The McCosh House was built in 1872 for Captain and Mrs. Reid H. McCosh. They moved to Rock Hill shortly after the Civil War, and were both natives of Chester County. Captain McCosh had served for the entire Civil War in the 18th S C. Regiment. After clerking in a store at Landsford (Chester Co., S.C.), for two years after the war, they came to Rock Hill to enter the mercantile business and take advantage of the economic growth of the town. They purchased property on Black Street in 1871 and completed construction of the house in 1872.
Captain McCosh was one of many who came to Rock Hill in the late 1860’s and 1870’s to be part of the growing commerce of the railroad center. As mercantile and service businesses developed, the village grew and a number of houses were built to accommodate the growing merchant and professional class. Because of the subsequent expansion of the downtown commercial area, most of the houses from this time have been demolished. The McCosh House remains and it is thus of great importance in illustrating the residential growth of the post-Civil War era. The McCosh family was an integral part of this period and made a lasting contributions to the business, cultural and religious life of the community.
Captain McCosh became a well known figure in the young town, serving as a Director when the Hook and Ladder Company formed in 1869. This was a fire-fighting group which was organized with forty-one members. He later became President of the Company. He was also elected Vice-President of a rifle club of Rock Hil citizens which was formed in August 1876. This group was part of the effort to organize support for Gen. Wade Hampton in his campaign for Governor, although they described their club as being: for the purpose of target shooting and other amusements of a similar character.” McCosh was also active in the First Presbyterian Church, becoming a deacon and he worked in the mercantile establishment of William Lyle Roddey until his death in 1880.
Mrs. McCosh, was from the Harmony area of Chester. She was a lifelong Baptist and was instrumental in founding Rock Hill’s First Baptist Church. About 1867, Rev. A.L. Stough began preaching periodically in Rock Hill for Baptists in the area. He could find only one Baptist still living in the town at that time, Mrs. McCosh, whose membership was still at the Harmony Church. She worked to secure various preachers who visited, holding services at the Presbyterian and Methodist churches. Mrs. McCosh often led the singing. The church was finally organized in 1878 with twenty members, only four of whom actually lived in town, including Mrs. McCosh. The family included two children, But Edgar, a son, died in 1872 at the age of fourteen, was the first person buried in Rock HiIl’s new cemetery, Laurelwood. Soon after Captain McCosh’s death in 1880, Mrs. McCosh moved to Chester.
After the McCosh’s family moved away, several other prominent Rock Hill families occupied the house. Mr. and Mrs. John G. Anderson spent the first year of their marriage in the house in 1884-85. During this time, Anderson was operating a small machinery and farm implement business, which would later grow into the Rock Hill Buggy Company and Anderson Motor Company. These firms built premium buggies and automobiles in Rock Hill which developed a national reputation.
The house became the property of the J. C. Rhea family in 1885. T he Rhea family still owns the house. It has been a rental property since the early 1890’s when the Rhea family built a house to the west on Hampton Street. In recent years it has been used as office space.
McCOSH HOUSE – Contributed and written by Paul M. Gettys
The McCosh House was built in 1872 by Captain and Mrs. Reid H. McCosh, who moved to Rock Hill from Chester County. It is significant as possibly the oldest brick home in Rock Hill and as one of the very few residences to survive in the immediate downtown area. It is also significant because it represents the significant period of growth in Rock Hill in the years following the Civil War. The McCosh family is representative of the many young families who gravitated to Rock Hill in this period from the surrounding towns and rural areas to take advantage of the economic opportunities which existed. The McCosh family, like many others, entered into the business, religious, and cultural life of Rock Hill during this period which was so important in shaping the future growth and character of the city.
Reid McCosh (1833-1880) was born in rural Chester County. As a young man, he clerked in John McKee’s stores in Chester and Spartanburg County. He entered the Civil War in the 18th Regiment and served from the beginning to the end, commanding his company at the end of the war. He married Jane McFadden (1833-1915), a native of the Harmony community in Chester County. After serving as a salesman in a store at Landsford, the McCosh family moved to Rock Hill, probably in the late 1860s. He served as a clerk in several mercantile stores, including 11 years in the Roddey Mercantile Company.
Jane McFadden McCosh was a devoted Baptist, and worked for a number of years to help establish Rock Hill’s First Baptist Church. She encouraged the ministers at Harmony Baptist Church, where she had been raised, to preach in Rock Hill. After a number of years, a church was organized in 1878, using the Presbyterian and Methodist churches for services. Many consider Mrs. McCosh to be the mother of First Baptist Church. Captain McCosh was a loyal Presbyterian, but supported his wife’s work on behalf of her church.
The couple had two children, Edgar (1862-1876) and Adella (1860-1908). Edgar died at the age of 14, and was the first person buried in Rock Hill’s new municipal cemetery, Laurelwood. Adella was an accomplished musician and organist. She married Newton Palmer Alexander.
Captain McCosh died in 1880 at the age of 47. The Herald of June 17, 1880 contained a story on his death and funeral, calling him “one of the most useful and prominent citizens” of Rock Hill. It cited his service as President of the Rock Hill Hook and Ladder Company (Volunteer Fire Department), his service as a Deacon in First Presbyterian Church, and his membership in the Masons. After his death, Mrs. McCosh moved away from the home.
In later years, the home was identified with several other prominent Rock Hill families. Mr. and Mrs. John G. Anderson spent the first year of their marriage in the house in 1884-85. During this time, Anderson was operating a small machinery and farm implement business which would later grow into the Rock Hill Buggy Company and the Anderson Motor Company. In 1885, the Rhea family purchased the home, and it has been in their ownership since that time. Residents of the home have included Mrs. Louise Owens Rhea, Mrs. J. W. Taylor, Will Duncan (1891-1911), Mrs. Sam Williford (1911-1913), and Mr. and Mrs. Paul Wright (1930-1948). From about 1948 to 1964, the American Red Cross used the house as its office.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, The Herald published a series of articles on the fate of the old home. On October 20, 1965, it was reported that owner Jimmy Rhea intended to demolish the house. On September 16, 1971, The Herald reported that the City had condemned the McCosh House as uninhabitable. In the edition of December 16, 1972 reported that Sam Mendenhall and Robert McFadden, local attorneys, had leased the house and it would be renovated as a law office. Both men would later become judges. Mendenhall was noted as a local historian and preservationist, instrumental in the preservation of Historic Brattonsville. Later, Tom S. Gettys shared the space with McFadden after his retirement as United States Congressman. The most recent attorney in the house was Forest Wilkerson, who left the house in 2012.
Click on Laurelwood Cemetery Tours for Edgar McCosh’s gravesite.
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