This Building Has History ™Name: White Home
Builder: Subcontracted by the White Family
Constructed: Ca. 1840
City Directories and History: The story of White family home, located on this lot, in many ways reflects the story of the City of Rock Hill, from humble beginnings to a thriving community. The house was built by George Pendleton White and his wife, Ann Hutchison White. George was a partner in a successful tailoring business, and Ann’s father was a planter and magistrate. They purchased the land from James Black for $500 in silver, and built a single room house and a log cabin, believed to have been used as a kitchen. Following the birth of their first child, they began to build a two-story, “hall and parlor” style home east of the original house.
In the 1840’s, a new railroad was proposed, to connect Augusta, Columbia, Charlotte, and points beyond. George White saw the potential and the value of the new technology, and offered to provide a right-of-way through his property. The removal of a flint rock hill in the area would provide the name for the new community of Rock Hill. Unfortunately, during the building of the railway in 1849, George White caught pneumonia and died.
Left with four small children and a farm to run, Ann White proved to be a woman of resolve and business savvy. She continued the railroad project, took in boarders, and farmed on a small scale. Some help came from her brother, Hiram Hutchison, who was a successful banker and merchant. With the completion of the railroad, a depot was established on the edge of Ann White’s land, and it quickly acquired the name Rock Hill. Alexander T. Black, her neighbor, created a Main Street with lots for sale. In 1852, as the city was evolving, Ann recognized the worth of her land, and sold property to William Broach, the first merchant in the new community. She also provided land for the first school in Rock Hill, and was instrumental in creating a new Presbyterian Church.
Hiram Hutchison, Ann’s brother, died in 1856, leaving behind a large fortune that was caught up in legal disputes. With a small, initial income from the estate, Ann began to expand her home. This would include a “Prophet’s Chamber,” a room dedicated to providing lodging for traveling ministers. During the Civil War, the White and Hutchison families were strong Confederates. The White home provided a haven for refugees fleeing coastal fighting, often in exchange for gifts of platters, rice bowls and furniture.
Following the Civil War, Rock Hill began to recover and grew rapidly, attracting settlers and becoming a regional trade center. In 1867, Ann White travelled to New York to fight for her brother’s estate, and returned as one of the wealthiest people in York County. In 1869, she added to her home again, this time a one-story section to the rear, and eventually Victorian Scroll work on the porches. The house became known as the “Gingerbread Palace.” In her declining years, Ann’s children and family moved to be near her, living in and around the White home. Ann Hutchison White died in 1880.
The children of Ann White continued to serve the community of Rock Hill after her death. Her son James began the first Sunday School, organized the first public school and the library, and helped create Laurelwood Cemetery in 1872. Others served on committees and donated land and funds, and Andrew served in the Constitutional Convention of 1895.
Hiram Hutchison White, son of Andrew, moved into the home following his father’s death. He made changes to the interior in the 1920’s, and sold much of the remaining farmland for residential development in the city. In 1926, a tornado destroyed many trees at the White home, and the oaks that stand today were probably planted at this time. Also around this time, two sons of H.H. White moved into the home and cared for it. In 2005, Historic Rock Hill purchased the home with a five-year plan for restoration, with the goal of preserving a building whose history is so integral to the story of Rock Hill itself.
Roots and Recall LLC, The City of Rock Hill, The York County Arts Council, & The S.C. Arts Commission which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts and by a generous award from the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of The Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina.
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