The Fort Hill complex is comprised of the dwelling house, Calhoun’s office, a reconstructed kitchen, and a springhouse.

Fort Hill Exterior. South Caroliniana Library.

(Clemson). The plantation home of John C. Calhoun, Fort Hill was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960, an honor that was reconfirmed in 1975. Calhoun composed some of his most significant political works at Fort Hill, including his 1828 South Carolina Exposition and Protest on constitutional compact theory and the 1831 Fort Hill Address, which set forth his theory of nullification.

Calhoun acquired the 1,100-acre plantation in 1825. The core of the main house was erected about 1803 by Dr. James McElhenny, a local Presbyterian pastor, and was called Clergy Hall. Calhoun enlarged it to fourteen rooms and renamed it Fort Hill, named for a fortification built there around 1776. After Calhoun’s death in 1850 and the Civil War, the property passed to his son-in-law, Thomas Green Clemson. In his 1888 will, Clemson bequeathed more than 814 acres of the Fort Hill estate to the state of South Carolina for an agricultural college, with a stipulation that the dwelling house “shall never be torn down or altered; but shall be kept in repair with all the articles of furniture and vesture . . . and shall always be open for the inspection of visitors.” Since the creation of Clemson University in the 1890s, the school has operated Fort Hill as a house museum as stipulated in Clemson’s will.

The Fort Hill complex is comprised of the dwelling house, Calhoun’s office, a reconstructed kitchen, and a springhouse. Its architectural style is Greek revival with Federal detailing and with simple, yet elegant interior detailing. Furnishings include a rare Dolphin-style Federal horsehair sofa, a Duncan Phyfe dining table and chairs, and a mahogany sideboard given by Henry Clay and made of wood from the USS Constitution. 

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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Fort Hill
  • Author William D. Hiott
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • URL http://www.scencyclopedia.org/sce/entries/fort-hill/
  • Access Date January 23, 2020
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • Original Published Date May 17, 2016
  • Date of Last Update October 4, 2016