Living History in Brattonsville

This day trip is sure to delight history buffs and gardeners. A 40-mile drive north to McConnells is the first stop on this two-venue day trip. After a visit to Historic Brattonsville and a sojourn to Revolutionary War times, your next stop is Glencairn Gardens in Rock Hill. There you will enjoy beautifully landscaped lawns, walkways and year-round flowers.

At Brattonsville reenactors stage The Battle of Huck’s Defeat, a rallying point that eventually led to the King’s Mountain victory. Historic Brattonsville, a 775-acre Revolutionary War living history site, also gives you an opportunity to explore the Bratton Plantation. Three generations of Brattons lived there and it looks much as it did during their time. You won’t find barbed wire or metal fence posts on this old farm in York County. You will find split-rail fences that typically didn’t need much upkeep, saving farmers valuable time. And you’ll find a lot of history.

One of South Carolina’s cultural attractions, Brattonsville celebrates the Bratton family’s pioneering spirit, hard work and the sacrifices descendants and slaves made. You’ll see surprising sights – a scarecrow, for instance. And the slave cabins here are unique. In the 1802s most slave cabins were built from logs. John Bratton built his from brick.

Take your time and see how people worked and lived during Revolutionary times. Brattonsville has 29 old structures that were pivotal to farm life. See how backwood cabins and farm buildings were made from logs chinked with mud. Brattonsville truly is a trip back in time.

Next up, Glencairn Gardens. A 15-mile drive northwest from Brattonsville takes you to Rock Hill’s Glencairn Gardens. It started as David and Hazel Bigger’s 1928 backyard garden and grew into an 11-acre paradise. A Who’s Who of flowering species airbrushes the garden with tints, tones and hues thanks to azaleas, camellias, dogwoods, other flowering trees, wisteria and more. Glencairn Gardens inspired Rock Hill’s annual Come-See-Me festival. For more than 50 years, Glencairn Garden has showcased nature’s finest colors, textures and shapes. Here you’ll find a veteran’s garden, tiered fountains, ponds, boardwalks, stage and a great place to walk flower-filled alleys.

During summer months the bright crape myrtles providing the perfect backdrop for a picnic. You’ll find a bonanza of beautiful plants: day lilies, annuals and hostas. The gardens expanded recently. See its tiered fountain and bridge. Other attractions include the Vernon Grant Wall of Whimsy, the Bigger House and more. Pack a picnic lunch and dine amid the beautiful surroundings of David and Hazel Bigger’s garden. Then it’s just a short 43-mile drive back home. You have not one but two places to recall. Plan a return to see battle reenactments at Brattonsville and return to Glencairn to see other seasons’ beauty.

If You Go …

• Historic Brattonsville

1444 State Road S-46-165

McConnells, S.C. 29726


• Glencairn Gardens

725 Crest Street, Rock Hill, S.C. 29730

No Admission Fee

Open Daily, dawn until dusk


Learn more about Tom Poland, a Southern writer, and his work at Email day-trip ideas to him at [email protected]

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