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January 15th, 2021
Nell Anderson Gibson grew up on Main Street in Travelers Rest. Each day as a teenager she walked from her home along the Swamp Rabbit Railroad track, Paris Mountain towering behind her, to school at Travelers Rest High. Her grandfather and father were born in the home — which operated for nearly 100 years as an inn for weary travelers — that Nell would work tirelessly to protect before passing away in November 2020. Nell’s dedication to preserving her family’s homeplace leaves behind a legacy that will be enjoyed by Travelers Rest residents and visitors for years to come.
Before her passing, Nell generously donated the Spring Park Inn and its adjacent 20 acres to the Travelers Rest Historical Society and worked with Upstate Forever to protect the property through a conservation easement, which will prevent residential and commercial development on the sprawling greenspace in perpetuity.
The preservation of the Spring Park Inn was made possible by a grant from the South Carolina Conservation Bank, a state funding source with a mission to improve the quality of life in South Carolina through the conservation of significant natural resource lands, wetlands, historical properties, archeological sites, and urban parks.
“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.”
Nell’s hope was to preserve and protect the property for the community’s enjoyment. The Travelers Rest Historical Society is working to make that vision a reality — they plan to restore the former inn and home as a museum and educational space for the public to enjoy. Located just steps from the Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail and in the heart of downtown Travelers Rest, the sprawling grounds adjacent to the inn will someday be transformed into a park and gathering place.
Built in 1820, the Spring Park Inn was placed on the Greenville County Historic Register and both South Carolina and National Registers of Historic Places in 2019. The Inn housed travelers on the Swamp Rabbit Railroad from 1852 until 1941, and is in part responsible for the name of the town of Travelers Rest.
In addition to its rich historical significance, the property also holds environmental significance. A headwater of the Reedy River originates here, including tributaries that feed into the Reedy and make their way to the City of Greenville and beyond. Protecting these headwaters from future development also contributes to the protection of our region’s water.