Hanover House. A Gallic-Influenced Gem
Hanover House. Clemson University has a treasure trove of historic properties on its campus from Fort Hill, home of Vice President John C. Calhoun and Ambassador Thomas G. Clemson, to the Hopewell Plantation, family home of General Andrew Pickens. It seems right that Hanover House also has a place on its manicured grounds. Home to French Huguenot rice planter Paul de St. Julien, this eighteenth-century house was named in honor of King George I, also referred to as the elector of Hanover. The two-story structure is an archetype of Gallic architecture. Paul’s grandparents Pierre de St. Julien Sr. and Jeanne LeFibure, along with their friend Rene Ravenel, fled from religious persecution in France, settling in South Carolina in 1686. Born in the late seventeenth century, Paul married Mary Amy Ravenel, and they had two surviving children, Mary and Elizabeth. Paul died in 1741, leaving his young daughters all of his property, including forty-five enslaved African-Americans.
His will specified that his 1,000-acre plantation known as Hanover was to be inherited by Mary. Interestingly, South Carolina was one of the few colonies where women were allowed to own property. Mary took ownership of Hanover House for almost a decade before marrying Henry Ravenel, her first cousin, in 1750. Together they had a total of sixteen children. Mary died six years before Henry in 1779, he passed sometime before July 5, 1785. Family lore claims that four of their sons fought in the American Revolution in the services of Brigadier General Francis Marion, the pesky militia officer known as the Swamp Fox. Mary and Henry’s son Stephen Ravenel (1771–1818) inherited the Hanover property, and it remained in his possession until 1817, at which time he passed Hanover to his brother Daniel James Ravenel IV (1789–1873), who served as the secretary of state in 1810.
About two decades later, Daniel willed the home to his grandnephew Henry LeNoble Stevens (1827–1862), who served during the Civil War and died from a gunshot wound at the Second Battle of Manassas, also known as the Second Battle of Bull Run. The property remained within the Ravenel family until it was sold in 1904 to a hunting association. Abandoned by tenant farmers in the late 1930s, destruction threatened Hanover House. To accommodate growth in the area, the South Carolina Public Service Authority proposed to build the Pinopolis Dam combining the Cooper and Santee Rivers and creating the man-made Lake Moultrie. In 1938 the US Department of Interior’s associate architect Thomas T. Waterman deemed Hanover House of vital architectural importance; it was already seventy years older than any other house in the area of inundation.
Because of this, the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) put a plan in motion to have the home relocated to another site. Disassembled piece by piece, Hanover House moved 250 miles from the Charleston area to Clemson College, two hundred years after its original owner’s death. Eventually, the United States entered World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The war led to a two-year halt on the home’s reassembly; the reconstruction was completed on November 1, 1945. By 1962, Hanover House had opened to the public thanks to the hard work of the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America (NSCDA), especially the members of the Spartanburg Committee. Rare to Southern architecture, the design of this house is typically seen in France. Paul de St.Julien had intentions for a brick house; however, since the three brick kiln loads had not completed the two chimneys and basement, he decided to use the local lumber for the first and second floors.
Hanover’s outside siding is a reverse shiplap, which prevented rainwater from entering the home, preserving its current condition. The original basement walls were eight feet high and two feet deep, but of course, the basement remains underneath Lake Moultrie. Inside the drawing room is an original chair owned by the family as well as a pianoforte made by Joseph Kirkman II that still holds a tune. In the dining room a portrait of Suzanne Ravenel sits above the mantel. The painting is based on another by Henrietta Johnson, copied by Charleston artist Alicia Rhett as a companion to her painting of Rene Ravenel in the parlor.
Another family portrait, this one of Mary Ravenel Broughton, daughter of Daniel Ravenel II and Charlotte Mazyck of nearby Wontoot Plantation also hangs in the home. Peek inside the fireplaces and you can see the contrasting brick colors from the various kiln loads used by Paul de St. Julien, while the master bedroom exhibits gorgeous unpainted black cypress walls in their authentic state. Clemson University, home to the only architecture school in South Carolina, preserved Hanover House as a monument of Colonial architecture for future generations. A destination garden of plants studied by early naturalists William Bartram, Andre Micaud, and Mark Catesby provides a welcoming educational experience.
Plantations and Historic Homes of South Carolina
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