“One of York County’s most innovative and well run plantations.”
City Directories and History: The Greek Revival plantation home of Robert Turner Allison, M.D., was constructed just prior to the opening of the Civil War. It
represented the aspirations of one of western York County’s most prosperous farmers and well known individuals. He and his family made significant yields on their cotton crops by flooding the rich bottom lands on each side of Clark’s Fork Creek which ran through the Allison farm. Though his plantation was not extensive, between his medical practice and that of his successes at farming the Allison family was among York County’s most distinguished.
The Allison’s home is attributed to local contractor Mr. Lawson Jenkins (1811-1887), who constructed dwellings in the Bullock’s Creek and Clark’s Fork areas of Western York County. Little is known if it is Mr. Jenkins’ work, but it is likely that the Allison house, a simple four-over-four room home with two massive central halls, was very similar to many others of the period. Its rooms were large, with little moldings beyond those around the large windows. Of particular note was the beautiful faux painting “marbling” that graced both the 1st and 2nd floor halls. This style of painting became popular in the South just prior to the Civil War and included at times faux marbling and trompe l’oeil murals. It has been suggested by numerous individuals familiar with this house that the paintings were nearly exact to those originally on the walls of Hightower Hall at Historic Brattonsville. Having been constructed at a similar period and by families of equal means, it is conceivable that the same artist rendered each mural. Dr. Allison maintained his office and a commissary on the drive leading from the main road, not far from his home.
Robert Turner Allison, a member of the S.C. House of Representatives, also signed the S.C. Ordinance of Secession for the citizens of York County, SC. This document was proudly on display at the home of his granddaughter, Mrs. Wade S. Buice, in Anderson SC for many years. Sadly, it was she and her sister Sally, who sold the farm in 1948 to A. C. Brackett and his son, Ruffin Brackett of Caesar, N.C. The Allison family proudly supported and attended Beersheba Presbyterian Church for many years.
This important home passed through a number of owners, including that of Mr. Gober Anderson, who inadvertently allowed a brush fire to get out of control, dooming the once palatial home overlooking Clark’s Fork Creek in the 1980′s.
Dr. Allison was born in 1798 at Henry’s Knob and died in 1882 at the age of 85. He is buried in the old Beersheba churchyard, the church where, for many years, he had served as a ruling elder. His wife, Martha Burnett Clinton, was born April 23, 1803, the daughter of Joseph Clinton and Mary Burnet. She died July 3, 1877, and is buried at Bethesda church. When their son Rufus Maitland Allison returned from the War Between the States, he married L. Belle Byars and went with his bride to live in the old house and care for his aged parents. For many years, Mrs. Robert Turner Allison was an invalid.
Two of Dr. Robert Allison’s sons became physicians: Dr. J. W. Allison, who practiced in the Hickory Grove community, and Dr. James B. Allison, who in his early years practiced in York. Rufus Maitland Allison inherited the beautiful old home and lived there until his death on November 28, 1902. He was born February 25, 1836, the son of Robert Turner and Mrs. Martha Burnett Clinton Allison. He assisted his father on the old Allison plantation in western York County and later operated the large family estate left to him at his father’s death. He served throughout the War Between the States and participated in the battle of Fredericksburg, Cold Harbor, Bill Run, and Gettysburg. He was at Appomattox Courthouse when Lee surrendered. He is buried in Bethesda Presbyterian Church cemetery.
His wife, L. Belle Byars Allison was born February 24, 1860, the daughter of Theodore Byars and Amanda Smith Byars. She lived on the Byars plantation near Sharon and attended school at the female cottage at Rome, Ga. She married Rufus Maitland Allison and lived at the old Allison plantation until her death in 1947.
The Allison family has given to the state and nation a number of illustrious men. Among them have been Gen. James B. Allison of the U.S. Army, now retired and living in York; he was retired in 1937 with the rank of Major General. Other descendants of the Dr. Allison who now live in York are Miss Sudie Allison and Mrs. Mary Allison Blodgett.
Other members of the family include the late Dr. Glenn Allison, X-ray specialist, and Major Robert T. Allison, both great grandsons of the builder of the home.
NATIONAL REGISTER DATA: Located in rural York County, Allison Plantation is believed to have been constructed ca. 1860 as a residence for Dr. Robert Turner Allison. It is significant for its association with a locally prominent physician and politician and for its architectural value as an upcountry interpretation of the Greek Revival style. Dr. Allison served three consecutive terms in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1838 to 1843. In 1852, he was elected as a delegate to the Southern Rights Convention. At the Secession Convention of 1860, Allison served as a delegate from York County and signed the Ordinance of Secession. The Allison Plantation is an architecturally significant example of the Piedmont interpretation of the Greek Revival style, and is reflective of the usage of indigenous building materials and techniques, as well as the adaptations of building design to the demands of the climate. It is a two and a half story frame residence with a two-room one-story frame ell on the building’s northwest elevation. The surroundings include a one-story frame barn, remains of the detached log kitchen, a concrete pedestal for a windmill, a springhouse, smokehouse, and the dilapidated remains of Dr. Allison’s Drugstore. There is also a granite mill, constructed prior to Allison’s death in 1882. Listed in the National Register September 29, 1980. [Courtesy of the SC Dept. of Archives and History]
Elizabeth Allison Buice wrote, “Down Through the Year” in which she gives an account of living on the Allison farm after the death of her mother. She states, “these were trying days. The crops had to be gathered and sold. Mules and cattle disposed of, and the breaking up of the home was no easy job. To rid the home, as large as our house was, indeed, a heart-breaking ordeal. We spent days, weeks, and nights going through things, listing, and emptying the house of the things we wanted to keep, and preparing for a sale of the things the family didn’t want.”
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