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Public Gets Glimpse Of Rock Hill's Fairfax House

Historic Preservation Commission Spends Day Sprucing Up House In Preparation For A Public Open House To Be Held On Sat., December 15

December 14, 2001
Instead of Christmas shopping, some members of the Rock Hill Historic Preservation Commission spent last Sunday sprucing up the historic Fairfax House in preparation for a public Open House on Saturday, Dec. 15, from noon to 3 p.m.

The event will mark the first time the James Marshall home at 9407 Manchester Road in Rock Hill has been open to the public, according to commission Chairman Donia Dymek.

Visitors will note that the vacant house is in need of a lot of TLC. If they look beyond the peeling paint and plaster, they can envision how the home once looked and how the commission hopes it will look again. The house retains some of its original features, such as woodwork and window glass. It is still supported with the hand-hewn square beams and notched joists which have withstood two moves.

The open house will serve to raise awareness of the house and future restoration plans for it, Dymek said. Exhibits will show the commission's vision for the house.

To fund the estimated $300,000 to $400,000 renovation, the commission is designing a major fundraising campaign. It is also establishing a 501-C3 non-profit corporation and is in the process of getting the house placed on the national register.

"Getting on the national register will provide access to grant money which is not otherwise available," Dymek said.

To restore the house, Dymek said it will be gutted and completely renovated. Restoration will bring the house back to its former glory. It will include uncovering the fireplaces which have been plastered over, redoing woodwork and floors to uncover the walnut and oak finish, and rebuilding an addition such as one previously on the house, which didn't survive the moves.

The house will be furnished minimally with original furnishings which are in the possession of descendants of the Marshalls.

"Once the house is renovated, they are donating some pieces which will be used to create an ambiance," Dymek said. "It will not be completely furnished. They have already donated photos of the original house."

"The real reason to rehab the house is to see it made into an interpretative learning center," Dymek said. There will be teaching exhibits about local history as well as travelling exhibits.

While the house will serve as the learning center, the new addition will be used for offices and meeting space to help fund it, Dymek said.

She noted that a lot of questions remain unanswered, such who will run the center.

"We haven't worked out the details. This is just the beginning," Dymek said.

A Brief History Of Rock Hill's Fairfax House

James Collier Marshall, his brother John and two sisters came to this area from Virginia in 1832.

James purchased 500 acres along Manchester Road, now known as the city of Rock Hill; John purchased 300 acres to the south which became North Webster and the Old Webster Business District. The brothers built a log building on Manchester Road where they lived and operated a store.

In 1840, James married Elizabeth McCausland of Georgia, and in 1841, he built a weatherboard home modeled after his Maryland home and named it "Fairfax" for that home next to the store.

Fairfax House became a residence, place of business and a stopping place for the stagecoach bound for Kansas City. It was also the first post office in the Rock Hill area.

In 1848 James contributed land for the Rock Hill Presbyterian Church. His slaves built the chapel using stone they quarried from the Fairfax farm quarry.

The house has withstood two moves from its original site on the north side of Manchester Road.

The first move was in 1941 when it was moved 300 feet east of its original location to make way for a subdivision. The second move was in 1997 when it was moved across the street to the grounds of the Rock Hill-South Webster Presbyterian Church to make way for McKnight Crossing, a retail center.

The house has been vacant since it was moved in 1997. Prior to the move, the house was used as office space.

History from the books, "Webster Groves," by Clarissa Start and "North Webster, A Photographic History of a Black Community," by Ann Morris and Henrietta Ambrose.

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