At the beginning of 2021, Travelers Rest was given perhaps one of its greatest gifts ever, and while the gift is the historic center of the town, the gift is primed to be the center of the town’s future for decades to come.
In January, the Travelers Rest Historical Society was donated the 20 acre Spring Park Inn and Spring Park, just off Main Street, behind the gazebo. Mrs. Nell Anderson Gibson, a life long resident of the community, provided for the transfer of the property before she passed in 2020.
First built between 1815-1820, the house is one of the oldest structures in Greenville county. From 1852 until 1941, the Inn housed passengers from the Swamp Rabbit railroad. At other times, it has served as a boarding house. It has been a private residence for the Gibson’s the last few decades. It has functioned as a stage coach stop, railroad inn, and boarding house for single, female teachers. The railroad once had a picnic and dancing pavilion on the property as well. The house has been on the National Registry of Historic Places since 2018.
Surrounding the property are 20 acres of woodland and open field, part of which is taken up by the Spring Park golf driving range. The driving range was originally the idea of the late Mr. Gibson, who was an avid golfer.
“We are very thankful to Mrs. Gibson and her family for their generosity and foresight in planning for this preservation, as well as the help of the SC Conservation Bank and Upstate Forever,” said Rosemary Bomar, President of the Travelers Rest Historical Society. “We feel very honored to have been entrusted with such a treasure that will benefit the entire community and region for years to come.”
Upstate Forever, a regional land preservation non-profit, holds the conservation easement for the land. Long term, it is hoped that the land will be a central park for Travelers Rest. There are already many ideas being worked on for how to make the land available for use as a park the whole community can use and be proud of.
The Travelers Rest Historical Society owns the house. You may have already noticed some restoration work on the structure, including roofing work. The historical society plans to use the building as a house museum and educational space. The interior of the structure show some wonderful examples of late 19th and early 20th century craftsmanship in its parlors and public sitting places. Grants, funding and donations are being made to restore the house to how appeared in the 1880’s, when it functioned as an inn.
“The Spring Park Inn is one of those properties that truly anchor a community’s sense of place,” said Raleigh West, Executive Director of the SC Conservation Bank. “In this case, it’s the historic origin for the town’s name and, today, still provides a resting place for folks traveling along the Swamp Rabbit Trail. Saving places like this helps South Carolina maintain its unique identity while simultaneously securing public amenities that add to our quality of life. I am humbled by the family’s gift of forever preserving it for our State and thankful to all the other partners who made it happen.”
The Spring Park property has long been part of the history of the Travelers Rest community. Thanks to the foresight of Mrs. Gibson, and the hard work of folks from the Historical Society and Upstate Forever, it will be a centerpiece of this community’s future too.
In order to make dreams for the property’s use a reality, the Historical Society is accepting donations for the preservation and maintenance of the home and property.
Individual and corporation donations can be made, either by check to the Travelers Rest Historical Society, designating them for Spring Park Fund, and mailed to
P.O. Box 412, Travelers Rest SC 29690.