Saluda Tour of Homes Saturday

Published 4:46 pm Friday, June 3, 2011

Area residents and visitors will have an opportunity tomorrow to explore some of Saluda’s historic buildings while helping to raise funds for local preservation projects.
The Historic Saluda Committee’s Tour of Homes will be held Saturday, June 4 from 1 – 5 p.m. The tour is part of Saluda’s 130th Anniversary Celebration and will include six homes, a teahouse and two additional smaller buildings, all located within walking distance of each other on historic Smith Hill.
Smith Hill’s heritage has its roots in the Infants’ and Children’s Sanitarium started in 1914 in Saluda by Dr. D. Lesesne Smith. The Southern Pediatric Seminar was an outgrowth of the medical facilities in the area. From 1921 – 1959, an estimated 3,000 – 4,000 doctors from all over the county and several foreign countries came to Smith Hill to study the latest in pediatrics during two weeks every summer.
When the seminar closed in 1959, some of the buildings used to house the visitors and hold the seminars were torn down, but others became permanent homes. All but one on the tour are owned and still occupied by relatives of their original owners.
The homes on the tour will include Aurora Lodge, Bon Air, Seminar Hall, Sleepy Hollow Cottage, Smith Hill Drive and Tree Tops.
Aurora Lodge
Aurora Lodge (Hamer House) was the first house on Smith Hill and was a summer house for Colonel Sloan of Charleston. One of his granddaughters, Clara Smith Carter, now owns the property. The high-ceilinged home has four fireplaces. Babies and their nurses stayed here. The house has gone through several renovations through the years. Cameron was used as the kitchen for Aurora Lodge, and the help stayed here.
Bon Air
Bon Air was built for Nettie Hane and her cousin in 1896. It was used as a summer residence and boarding house as well as a hospital and a school during winter months. When the Smith Hill property was divided in 1960, Dr. Keitt Hane Smith and his wife Vivian became the owners. Their daughter, Vivian “Vee Vee” Smith Blackshear, became owner of the house upon Viv’s death in 1998. The children’s dining hall (the round building – the Tea House) was built around 1920 and stabilized around 2006.
Seminar Hall
Seminar Hall was the last building erected on Smith Hill. The many windowed lecture hall was designed to accommodate student chairs, and a raised platform at one end provided every student a clear view of the lecturer. Dr. Keitt Smith gave it to his daughter, Lesesne Dickson, and her husband, Gene, and they converted it to a summer cottage. In 2000, they sold it to Lynn and Mike Cass, who began living here full-time in 2009.
Sleepy Hollow Cottage
Sleepy Hollow Cottage was built by Mr. and Mrs. Paul Kennedy of Spartanburg around 1917 with post and beam construction. Acquired by Dr. Smith, it was used to house nurses for the Infants’ and Children’s Sanitarium in the 1920s and became known as the “Nurses Home.” In the mid-1960s, Tennent Hane of Fort Motte, S.C., purchased the summer cottage from his first cousin, Porcher Smith. Hane always told everyone that he measured all of his first cousin’s porches to ensure that, though Sleepy Hollow was the smallest house on the hill, it would have the largest porch. It is now owned by Tennent’s daughter, Jenny Hane, and her husband, Julian Wiles. In 2005, they began an extensive renovation with the help of Saluda contractor Adam Henry. The porch remains the same.
Smith Hill Drive
50 Smith Hill Drive was built by the Matthews family of Charleston about 1910. The house was part of the sanitarium and accommodated mothers and children and, years later, was used for playing poker at night.
Various children of Dr. Smith occupied the house until the 1960s. Louisa Searson, who was married to Daniel Ravenel, a nephew of Dr. Smith, bought the house from Porcher Smith in the late 1960s. In 2008, Louisa turned the house over to her daughter, Lavinia Ravenel French who has spent the past two years renovating and rebuilding the house.
Tree Tops
Tree Tops, the home of Nettie and George Sweet, was built in 1908 for Nettie Hane’s sister, Ammie Hane Smith. It has been used as a home for the Smiths, Owingses and Sweets, a place for house-paying guests at the sanitarium and as a physician’s office, with some additions over the years.
After the house passed to the Sweets, renovations began in 1994 to make the house suitable for year-round habitation. Don Mintz’s crews did the major work and George Sweet worked behind the scenes.
In 2004, when the Sweets became permanent residents, Ralph Morgan rebuilt the guesthouse and added the carport.
“Stagger Inn” began as a chicken house in the Smith’s backyard in Spartanburg and was moved to Smith Hill and renovated for Dr. Smith’s summer interns. It is now the Sweets’ grandchildren’s bunkhouse.
The Historic Saluda Committee was formed in May 2010. Its primary focus is “to preserve Saluda’s past to protect its future.” Proceeds from the tour will be used to support preservations projects in Saluda.
Tour tickets are available at city hall, Historic Thompson’s Store and Heartwood Gallery in Saluda. Parking is available at the First Baptist Church at the corner of Carolina and Henderson streets, and shuttle vans will be available to take you to Smith Hill for the tour.
For more information, contact Lynn Cass at 828-749-1975.
– article compiled by Bulletin staff from information submitted by Lynn Cass, Historic Saluda Committee chair

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