Magnolia Hall - Saunders House, Hagood South Carolina

Date added: November 16, 2023 Categories:
Front facade looking southwest (1998)

This house was built by Isaac Barnes ca. 1821 and consisted of the present dining room, kitchen, porch, bedroom, parlor and north porch at the rear of the present house. In 1853, Dr. Swepson H. Saunders married Harriet Rebecca McCall and bought the house and 197 acres from James Dunlap. Between 1853 and 1860, Saunders added onto the existing house with elements of an elevated facade and a full facade front porch with detached columns, adding "four large bedrooms with the spacious hall and the front piazza with an overhanging roof structure" to accommodate the Saunders' growing family of fourteen children.

The house is an excellent example of a typical plantation residence of the antebellum South. It is a rather modest one-story house, though with a large, elevated front porch and detached columns that assume a grandeur and scale that may have been absent without such a treatment of the facade. The upper class had a well-defined architectural ideal, and favored columns as "giving even second-rate or tumble down places a grandeur." Consistent with the Greek Revival style, sidelights and horizontal transom windows can be found around the front door. The house also has a pedimented roof, with the exception of the turn-of-the-century roof replacement on the front porch which left exposed rafter tails. Tall windows and pilaster cornerboards are also features of the house. Photographs of the interior from the second half of the nineteenth century show its furnishings to have been, to a great extent, sparse, eclectic, and somewhat dwarfed by the size of the rooms and height of the ceilings.

In 1852, the year before Saunders purchased the property, the Camden branch of the South Carolina Rail Road passed through this area and continued on to the newly incorporated town of Sumterville (later Sumter); the stop here was later known as Sanders' Station, presumably after Saunders. Sanders' Station, later renamed Hagood in 1882 after former Confederate general and then-Governor Johnson Hagood, boasted a few grocery stores, a bank, and a livery stable.

Saunders soon purchased additional parcels to add to his original holdings, so that by 1860 he planted cotton and the typical subsistence crops on 500 acres of his 700-acre plantation. He also became a slaveholder in the years between 1853 and 1860, with 41 slaves, living in eight slave houses, listed in the 1860 census. The property was valued at $7000, with farming implements and machinery valued at $1000. The agricultural components of the plantation included $2078 in livestock, 1000 bushels of Indian corn, thirty-five 400-pound bales of ginned cotton, 1000 bushels of peas and beans and 300 pounds of butter. Though Saunders was a doctor by training, he never actually practiced medicine, and his only known vocation was tending to his plantation.

Saunders, who suffered from inflammatory rheumatism, did not serve in the Confederate army but did contribute to the Confederate cause by raising crops for the hospitals. He wrote a letter to his wife in early 1865, during the raid conducted by Brig. Gen. Edward E. Potter through eastern South Carolina, stating, "I can see fathers house from here and can tell when the Yankeys get to my house. Can see the houses burning at Statesburg now." Federal troops passed by Saunders' house, receiving food from the slave cook, Aunt Betsy, through the window.

After the Civil War, Saunders retained the property at Sanders' Station and continued to cultivate his lands, albeit on a smaller scale. In 1870, Saunders had 320 acres improved (compared to 500 acres in 1860) and 649 acres unimproved (compared to 200 acres in 1860), with a cash value of land and implements estimated at $6769. While some agricultural production dropped after 1865, Saunders still held $1500 in livestock, produced eighty 450-pound bales of cotton, 600 bushels of Indian corn, 200 pounds of wool, 12 tons of hay, and was paying $2500 in wages and board.

Swepson Saunders died in 1882 and willed the property to his wife Rebecca.

In 1901, the property was sold by the estate of Harriet Rebecca Saunders to M.S. Kirk. It was during Kirk's ownership that the name "Magnolia Hall" is believed to have been attached to the property. In the early 1900s, a tornado removed the front porch roof, which was replaced in a style of that time period, leaving the rafter tails on the porch exposed. Upon the death of M.S. Kirk in 1953, the property was willed to his daughters, Susan K. Haynsworth and Mary K. Brown. Magnolia Hall and 36.4 acres were sold to Mary Haynsworth Carrison and James Haynsworth in 1978, and Mary Haynsworth Carrison is the current (1998) owner and occupant of the house.

Building Description

Magnolia Hall, located in the rural community of Hagood, S.C., is a mid-nineteenth-century Greek Revival residence, the earliest portion of which was built ca. 1821. As viewed today, the main block of the house was added to the western end of the earlier house between ca. 1855 and 1860. With this addition, the axial orientation and front of the house shifted from a northern to a western exposure. The current house features a rectangular plan with a pedimented gable roof, a rear intersecting gable roof, a large full-facade front rain porch, and a north porch. Architecturally, the major alterations to the house were made between 1853 and 1860, at which time the front porch, four bedrooms, and a central hall were added to the existing structure.

The shape of the main house is rectangular with a rear ell extension. The early portion of the house, constructed ca. 1821, is a double-pen, single-pile plan with a rear (south) shed extension, and a front shed porch. The ca. 1855 addition intersected the earlier structure at its western elevation to form the final L- or T-shape of the house. This portion is double pile in depth. The main block of the house is five bays wide, with two windows flanking both sides of the front door.

The foundation is a filled brick pier system. The piers are still visible under the house, with infill ca. 1970. The walls of the house are of frame construction and are covered with wood weatherboard. The house was constructed of mortice, tenoned, and pegged heavy timber, some of which is still clearly apparent on the front porch balustrade and other parts of the house. The intersecting gable roof is shingled with a composite shingle. There are four chimneys and one flue visible from the exterior of the house. The main block's roof is punctuated by two symmetrically placed chimneys along the ridgeline. A central interior chimney pierces the roof ridge of the rear ell (original house), while an exterior flue is visible along the southern exposure or shed extension of the rear ell. A modern exterior end chimney is located on the eastern exposure of a secondary addition to the rear ell.

The front elevation of the house faces west and is five bays wide. The front porch features an engaged shed roof, is slightly flatter in pitch than the main roof, and is elevated four to five feet above grade. There are three detached square paneled pillars with graduated capitals on either side of the steps leading up to the recessed, balustraded porch deck. The porch itself is constructed of wood, and mortice and tenon construction is evident in the porch posts. The ceiling is a narrow beaded board and the roof line displays exposed rafter tails. Both of these features are of later construction than the addition and are believed to have been added in the early 1900s after a tornado removed the front porch roof. The front entrance features a wide, single-leaf door, but with a double-leaf screen door. The entrance is flanked by sidelights. The sidelights are made up of fourteen rectangular panes of glass (2x7), and the transom contains twenty panes (10x2). The windows on the front of the house are shuttered, six-over-six double-hung sash.

On the southern exposure of the house, the junction of the two rectangular masses of the house is apparent. The end gable is fully pedimented. The four windows on the ca. 1855 section of the house are six-over-six double-hung windows with shutters. A small shuttered window is located within the gable pediment. In the older section (shed extension), the two windows are also six-over-six. One of these windows used to be a door, which was removed ca. 1930 when the covered walkway to the detached kitchen was removed and the kitchen was moved indoors. The four windows at the rear of the house are twelve-over-eight, and are part of an addition to the house ca. 1983 that squared the back corner of the house.

The northern exposure of the house also displays the fully pedimented gable. There are four shuttered windows of six-over-six double-hung construction. A shed roof porch extends along the full length of the north elevation of the older portion of the house. This porch has been screened and can be entered through three doors from the house. A large single wooden door opens from the bedroom, another from the parlor that is part of a French-style door group, and the third is another large single wooden door opening from the dining room. There is one window on either side of this door of nine over nine, double-hung sash construction. The ceiling of the porch is a wider beaded board. There is one small window that opens into the kitchen area. The rear of the house has one opening, a back door, and another screened porch. The rear faces the slave house and detached kitchen.

The interior of the house is spacious, which is not necessarily evident from the exterior. From the front door, one enters a large central hall, approximately ten feet wide, twenty feet long and fourteen feet high. The floors are wide-planked hardwood, and the walls are plastered. At the east end of the hall are wide double-leaf wooden doors featuring four panels each and a Greek Revival door surround with eared lintel. There are two doors on each side of the hall, parallel to each other, with eared surrounds as well. These rooms are furnished as bedrooms; each has a fireplace and original mantelpieces. The rooms on each side of the hall were once interconnected, but the doors have been sealed off on one side to create closet space in two of the rooms. All molding around windows and doors in these rooms and the hall have eared lintels. Crown molding is present throughout the house as well as wainscoting. The rear bedroom on the north elevation has a door that opens onto the north porch (original section). The room across the hall from it (south rear) connects to a bathroom in the original house's shed room rear extension. The wide doors at the end of the front hall lead into a parlor room. Directly opposite the doors is a fireplace, and to the right of the fireplace is a built in glass-fronted cabinet.

The adjacent wall contains two narrow glass doors that open to a short corridor that runs between two bathrooms. On the wall opposite these doors is a French-style door system, a door in the middle and a window on either side of the same dimensions, that opens out onto the north porch. In the fourteen-foot ceiling is an opening that leads to the attic.

To the left of the fireplace is another doorway that leads into the dining room. This room is almost identical in its features to the parlor. A fireplace is located on the same wall that it shares with the parlor, and this wall also houses a built-in glass-fronted cabinet. The adjacent wall has two narrow glass doors that lead down a short corridor where the exterior door used to be located. A bathroom is to the right and a laundry room/storage area is to the left. The wall opposite the glass doors holds a wide wooden door that opens onto the porch and two windows.

At the eastern end of the original portion of the house is the kitchen and adjoining sitting room addition. The kitchen has one north-facing window and appears to have been renovated within the last twenty years. The ceilings are conspicuously lower in this area of the house. The adjoining sitting room was added in the early 1980s to square out the back of the house. The wall had previously been located near the back door.

A few feet directly to the rear of the house is a lateral gable-roofed, double-pen former slave dwelling, which contributes to the historic character of the property. It is a simple building constructed on a brick pier foundation. The building is sided in weatherboard and has a gabled V-crimp metal-clad roof with boxed cornice and returns. A large corbel-capped central chimney is visible at the roof ridge. The house is symmetrical, bisected at the central chimney by an interior wall. Each room is accessed from the exterior through plank doors. On the outer side of each door is an eight-over-four double-hung window with a single batten shutter. Each end of the building has a single eight-over-four double-hung window with batten shutter, and there is one window visible from the back which is shuttered. A shed extension was added on the back of this structure and is used for storage. The floor is sagging and the bricks in the fireplace are soft and crumbling. The chimney's fireboxes opened into both rooms of the house, but both sides have been sealed. A single plank door beside the chimney connects the two rooms of this former dwelling. The ceiling appears to have been installed in a board and batten configuration atop the exposed ceiling joists. The exterior of the building appears to be in good condition, but it seems some of the brick piers may be crumbling inside the perimeter.

To the southeast of the main house is the gable-front detached kitchen, which also contributes to the historic character of the property. Once this building was connected to the rear of the original section of the house by a breezeway, a portion of which probably now shelters the entrance as a gabled porch. There are two nine-over-nine double-hung windows on both side elevations of the building and an exterior chimney on the rear of the building. This building also sits on a brick pier foundation and has a gabled V-crimp metal-clad roof. Although aluminum siding has been applied to its exterior, the building's form and overall integrity has been preserved. The fireplace was rebuilt so it could be safely used by the owner. The kitchen has been converted into a home office/library. The placement of the hearth seems to be consistent with historic photographs and its form and window sash configuration indicate an early nineteenth-century construction date. Since kitchen fires were a very real threat, however, the exact date of this building is not known.

Two additional buildings are located on the property. The first is an early twentieth-century two-story, gable-front frame barn set on brick piers. The building's central plank and batten entrance appears to be identical to the corresponding loft window/door. High, shed-roofed wings accommodate the width of this agricultural storage building.

The house and outbuildings are surrounded by a landscape of historic trees and shrubs. Large magnolias and Deodar cedars shade and accent the front lawn, while mature pecans, walnuts, pines and ornamental fruit trees help to define the side and back yards. Shrubs, including camellias, sasanquas, azaleas, figs, privet, spirea, pyracantha, boxwood, yucca, hydrangea, forsythia, and Lady Banksia rose, add color, texture, and dimension to the grounds.

Magnolia Hall - Saunders House, Hagood South Carolina Front facade looking northwest (1998)
Front facade looking northwest (1998)

Magnolia Hall - Saunders House, Hagood South Carolina Front facade looking west (1998)
Front facade looking west (1998)

Magnolia Hall - Saunders House, Hagood South Carolina Front facade looking southwest (1998)
Front facade looking southwest (1998)

Magnolia Hall - Saunders House, Hagood South Carolina Southern exposure (1998)
Southern exposure (1998)

Magnolia Hall - Saunders House, Hagood South Carolina Southern exposure (1998)
Southern exposure (1998)

Magnolia Hall - Saunders House, Hagood South Carolina Northern exposure (1998)
Northern exposure (1998)

Magnolia Hall - Saunders House, Hagood South Carolina Northern Exposure (1998)
Northern Exposure (1998)

Magnolia Hall - Saunders House, Hagood South Carolina Northern Exposure (1998)
Northern Exposure (1998)

Magnolia Hall - Saunders House, Hagood South Carolina Front porch post with wood peg (1998)
Front porch post with wood peg (1998)

Magnolia Hall - Saunders House, Hagood South Carolina Front porch looking north (1998)
Front porch looking north (1998)

Magnolia Hall - Saunders House, Hagood South Carolina Front porch looking south (1998)
Front porch looking south (1998)

Magnolia Hall - Saunders House, Hagood South Carolina Approach to front door (1998)
Approach to front door (1998)

Magnolia Hall - Saunders House, Hagood South Carolina View from porch (1998)
View from porch (1998)

Magnolia Hall - Saunders House, Hagood South Carolina Bedroom (1998)
Bedroom (1998)

Magnolia Hall - Saunders House, Hagood South Carolina Mrs. Carrison Bedroom (1895)
Mrs. Carrison Bedroom (1895)

Magnolia Hall - Saunders House, Hagood South Carolina Mrs. Carrison Bedroom (1895)
Mrs. Carrison Bedroom (1895)

Magnolia Hall - Saunders House, Hagood South Carolina View into bedroom (1998)
View into bedroom (1998)

Magnolia Hall - Saunders House, Hagood South Carolina Mrs. Carrison Bedroom as parlor (1895)
Mrs. Carrison Bedroom as parlor (1895)

Magnolia Hall - Saunders House, Hagood South Carolina Mrs. Carrison Bedroom as parlor (1895)
Mrs. Carrison Bedroom as parlor (1895)

Magnolia Hall - Saunders House, Hagood South Carolina Front hall looking front door (1998)
Front hall looking front door (1998)