Jefferson Davis Park – Abbeville, South Carolina
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Jefferson Davis Park is a public park located next to the Burt-Stark Mansion in Abbeville. A large, Queen Anne-style house owned by Dr. George Rosenberg once stood on the property, seen below. The house was demolished after being purchased by the City of Abbeville during the 1970s.
The park is named for Confederate President Jefferson Davis, who is said to have held his last cabinet meeting in the Burt-Stark Mansion prior to being captured by Federal troops near Washington, Georgia, in the final days of the Civil War.
The small white building in the background of this photo was used as a kitchen for the Burt-Stark mansion. It contains a wood-fired brick oven that dates back to the 1830s when the house was built by David Lesley.
SCIWAY thanks Mark Clark, an Abbeville native currently residing in Winnsboro, for submitting this picture and historical information.
Shelley Reid shared this reflection about the home: I went in the house as a boy with my mother. Don’t remember a whole lot about it but it was vacant at the time. I think mom was looking for an old house to renovate but came away with the conclusion the house, at that time, was too far gone. She eventually was able to renovate the Lee-Wright House on North Main. When I think of the many old houses forever lost in Abbeville, this house is among the ones I think about.
John Blythe posted this about the property: This photo shows the house that was located at the present site of Jefferson Davis Park. The Barnwell House was a Second Empire style residence that stood where the old post office is, at the corner of Greenville and Lane Streets. LIke the Lee (Wright, Reid, Hite) House on North Main, it had a tall central tower.
I don’t have my notes handy, so what I am about to write is from memory, so please don’t hold me to the details. I may be off a year or two, but it’s in the right ballpark.
When Mr. Stark bought the Norwood/Calhoun House (now known as the Burt-Stark Mansion) about 1903, the property lines extended back to the Russell House (site of present Civic Center) on North Main and the Gary House (slightly visible in the photo) on Greenville Street. He sold off the back part as two residential lots. The Dr. G. A. Neuffer House was built on the Main Street lot and this one on Greenville Street. Both were built 1903-04, and you’ll notice a smilarity in style.
Here is where I am a bit foggy, so perhaps someone else can clear up the details. I think that the house in the photo was built by a man (named Ellis?) who seemed to be a real estate developer / speculator of that time period. He would build a new house and sell it after a year or two, then find another lot and repeat the process. Quite a few of Abbeville’s historic houses owe their existence to him, and I think this is one of them, though I am not certain.
In any case, very early on, this became the M. T. Coleman House and remained in that family for a long time. I think it is commonly known as the Rosenberg House because they were the last owner / occupants.
Mrs. Hannah Coleman and the first Mrs. Neuffer (Annie) were sisters, so both houses were owned by brothers-in-law, though Annie Neuffer had died before her husband bought the lot from Mr. Stark. For more information about this house, I would contact Genie Milford or Tom Howie. The Colemans were her grandparents, so I suppose she would have spent a lot of time in this house.
As for when it was torn down, I would guess about 1978-80. When I first came to Abbeville in 1976 it was still standing. By the time we initiated the intensive historic survey of Abbeville in 1981, JDP had taken its place. Since the CIty had it demolished in order to build the park, there should be a public record of that action. It would be good to know if the City documented the house in any manner (photographs, floor plan, etc.) before it was torn down.
I don’t have a complete chain of title for that property, with an indication of who owned it for how long, but I know that the original owner was J. C. Ellis, and the last owners were George & Edith Rosenberg. In between, it was owned and occupied for a long time by the M. W. & Eugenia Hemphill Coleman family. So the historic name probably should be Ellis-Coleman House, and the common or familiar name for those now living would be Rosenberg. Others on this page may be able to share details of how long the various families lived there and add any names I may have omitted.
Jefferson Davis Park Info
Address: 400 North Main Street, Abbeville, SC 29620
GPS Coordinates: 34.180558,-82.381939
Jefferson Davis Park Map
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