Southern history lives in Abbeville mansion

When you walk through the Abbeville square, it feels as though you step back in time. With the Court Square Market selling freshly butchered meat and the Abbeville Opera House producing classic theater shows, this small town has always had a historic atmosphere.

But on the outskirts of the square stands the historic majesty in the Burt-Stark Mansion. The exterior is inspired by Greek Revival architecture with grand columns and balconies. The landscaping reflects the popularity of outdoor living throughout history. When you enter the house, sunlight beams through a stained glass, crescent transom. The dining room includes fine china and a plantation hunt board. The kitchen of 1820 might shed light on the secrets of Southern cooks. Antique furniture, paintings, and rugs fill the home with the history of the South.

The house was built in the 1830s by David Lesley, who was a planter, lawyer, and Abbeville District judge. This home played a significant role in the Civil War. Confederate President Jefferson Davis, along with his generals and Cabinet, determined  that "all is indeed lost" in the Civil War. It was the last council of war meeting by the Confederacy.

Mary Stark Davis, the last surviving member of the Burt-Stark family, donated the historic home to the Abbeville County Historic Preservation Commission. The commission was appointed by the South Carolina governor to maintain the home and operate it for tours and events. The house is open for tours on Fridays and Saturdays from 1:30-4:30 pm with tickets at $10 per person. Call 864.366.0166 to book special tours, to reserve the grounds for your event or wedding, or to volunteer as a tour guide.

For more information about the mansion, visit

*Photos provided by Katy Tilley, of the Abbeville County Historic Preservation Commission with permission from AJ Design and Marketing, LLC.

Jamie Gillenwater works as a technical communication consultant for Transcend Text, LLC. Her writing focuses on her Upstate community, technical communication, and corporate training. She is an active member of the Society for Technical Communication's Carolina chapter, Connect Young Professionals, and the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce Women's Leadership Council.