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Upstate Forever and the Travelers Rest Historical Society are pleased to announce the permanent protection of the 20-acre Spring Park and Spring Park Inn on Main Street. The late owner Nell Anderson Gibson donated the property to the Travelers Rest Historical Society with the hopes of protecting and preserving the inn and land in perpetuity. A grant from the South Carolina Conservation Bank made possible the conservation easement that protects the land from future development.
“The Spring Park Inn is a remarkable example of the intersection of our region’s historic and natural resources, and the type of conservation project we hope to see more of in the years to come,” said Scott Park, Glenn Hilliard Land Conservation Director for Upstate Forever.
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 in which it is located. In 1941, it was inherited by the father of the late owner Nell Anderson Gibson, who worked closely with the Upstate Forever and the Travelers Rest Historical Society to ensure the preservation and restoration of the home and former inn before her passing in late 2020. The Spring Park Inn will be restored and used by the Travelers Rest Historical Society as a house museum and educational space.
“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.”
A conservation easement placed on the 20-acre property will permanently protect the land surrounding the Spring Park Inn from residential and commercial development. Upstate Forever, a nationally accredited land trust, holds the conservation easement and land stewardship responsibilities. Located just steps from the Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail and in the heart of downtown Travelers Rest, the sprawling open space adjacent to the inn will someday be transformed into a park for the community to enjoy according to the wishes of the late Ms. Gibson.
The preservation of the Spring Park Inn was made possible by a grant from the SC 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.”
“We are grateful to the Gibson family and the Travelers Rest Historical Society for their role in preserving this remarkable property, and to the SC Conservation Bank for funding that enabled us to protect it,” said Andrea Cooper, Executive Director of Upstate Forever. “This is an example of how direct funding for conservation can have a tremendous positive impact. It is essential that we continue to fund important programs like the Conservation Bank. Indeed, as Greenville County grows, we need to develop additional local conservation funding sources, like the recently established Greenville County Historic and Natural Resources Trust, to protect even more special places that define our region.”
In addition to its rich history, the property boasts environmental significance and includes tributaries that are headwaters to the Reedy River which ultimately travel through Greenville and beyond.