Four years ago an ice storm damaged the roof at historic Kensington Mansion in Eastover and the mansion’s future was uncertain.
Now the plantation home has been restored by its owner International Paper and is ready to open for tours in June.
“It’s in great condition,” said Samantha Cook, Communications Director for International Paper Eastover Mill. “It was an important investment for us to make to preserve it.”
International Paper has not disclosed how much it paid for the renovation. The 164-year-old home had been open for public tours until its roof was severely damaged during a 2014 ice storm.
“We appreciate the history and we are committed to being good stewards and keeping that piece of history alive for current and future South Carolinians and beyond to discover,” Cook said.
The home is a Renaissance Revival Villa style mansion built between 1852 and 1854 as part of the Headquarters Plantation. It has 29 rooms and 12,000 square feet of floor space. International Paper, formerly Union Camp, purchased the property in the early 1980s and restored the mansion after it had been used as a storage area for farm equipment, fertilizer and feed for animals.
“We’re ecstatic to see the condition that the recent preservation work has left the building in,” Historic Columbia’s director of cultural resources John Sherrer said. “It’s brilliant. Very, very glad to see it’s been so well taken care of. . . I was just blown away. Every detail has been covered. The interior is — it’s so beautiful.”
The project focused on maintaining the historic integrity of the mansion. It is considered a hybrid restoration and rehabilitation because it included preserving, repairing and/or replacing existing fabric, while restoring and upgrading systems to ensure the property is functional and safe. Work on the mansion included a full roof replacement and significant interior and exterior repairs.
Along with the renovation, International Paper is now working with Historic Columbia to research a slave dwelling on the property. Some of the primary research on the estate had been completed by the Scarborough-Hamer Foundation, which is no longer active.
“We’re excited about adding to that because you never really stop discovering things,” Sherrer said. “It’s always good to go back and take a look at your historic properties and your historic references and resources and ask questions about them.”
Cook said the interior renovations took about 14 months to complete after the ice storm.
“We’re excited to be able to get back to access Kensington because it is a shared resource and a shared and treasured and very finite and irreplaceable resource for the community,” Sherrer said. “So we applaud International Paper’s stewardship of it and we’re very thankful for us being able to continue in the partnership.”
The tours on June 9 are sold out but Cook said more are planned for the fall. Click here for information