Historic Structures

The Rocks Plantation, Eutaw Springs, South Carolina

Date added: July 29, 2016 Categories: South Carolina House Plantations & Farms

The Rocks was built by Captain Peter Gaillard, who, seeking to retrieve his fortune lost with the extinction of the indigo trade, bought the land and raised cotton on it. The land, enriched by marl (causing the plantation name) proved to be a bonanza, and only eight years after the purchase he was able to complete his fine house. Fortunately, Gaillard's day book is still in existence, and this gives 1803 as the date of the commencement of building preparations and 1805 as completion.

The house is two full stories high; hipped roof; fairly high basement; weatherboarded on all elevations. Nine-light sash is used, as usual, in the windows both upstairs and down. Louvered shutters occur except on the porch, where they are paneled. The posts of the porch are Tuscan columns attenuated to express wood, the material used, instead of stone. They are well designed and, while lacking the graceful naivete of the slender posts of the other early examples, have a pleasantly substantial character. Both the porch and the main cornice are enriched with closely spaced pseudo-modillions and triglyples. The roof is hipped, the planes being pitched at about thirty degrees. Its design is very satisfactory, giving an effect of repose and relating well to the site. The roof is pierced on the side slopes by large square chimney stacks, and the lower courses of the caps are painted white to simulate the almost universal plastered neckings found in this region.

The plan comprises a pair of equal drawing rooms in the front with an intercommunicating door, and a door to the porch from each. These rooms have a pair of windows on each outside wall and a fireplace in the rear wall, with a door to the hall at one side. This rear hall has a stair against one wall and a pair of closets facing it. At the rear are the doors to the flanking rooms. An extension in the rear takes the form of a covered porch at the end of the hall, with a small room at either side. These latter are heated by chimneys built against the side wall. The rear extension, duplicating the outline of the front porch, serves to balance the side elevation.

The interior has its fine original woodwork in perfect condition. The mantels are of exceptional merit, and according to Gaillard's day book were ordered from the north. Their design suggests Rhode Island as their source, similar motives being found in such houses as the nightingale house in Providence, although this latter example is earlier and more elaborate. The mantels themselves are quite typical, with slender reeded pilasters supporting a narrow fluted architrave, wide frieze, and delicate cornice. The latter has a band of HSfall of Troydentils, and the pilaster and frieze blocks have carved sunbursts. Surrounding the fireplaces are facings of closely mottled Pennsylvania blue marble. The overmantels have coupled reeded pilasters supporting full entablatures similar in detail to that below, though lacking the carved blocks, and possessing broken serpentine pediments. The central panel is richly moulded with a supplementary applied moulding. This latter is cut at the corners in the form cf indented quadrants.

The cornice of the room repeats the detail of the mantel and caps a frieze decorated with closely spacea triglyples and metopes, the former reeded and the latter filled with lozenge devices. The dado is paneled with mouldeu chair rail and base, the former showing some carving. While the stair hall lacks the enrichments of the mantels its refined detail and judicial disposition of mouldings give it great distinction, A paneled dado surrounds the hall and continues up the stair. The balustrade is formed of simple rectangular verticals, three to a tread, and a simply moulded walnut handrail. The newel is square in plan, cut to a profile of an attenuated Doric column. Decorating the stair ends are interlacing strapwork brackets, above a raking architrave.