House & Gardens

Historic Home & Gardens

The Kilgore-Lewis House, built in 1838, became the headquarters for the Greenville Council of Garden Clubs, Inc., on July 30, 1974. Moved from its original site to the present location on North Academy Street, the house is nestled among tall trees on a sloping terrain, overlooking a restored spring (c. 1765), a placid pond, and extensive gardens which are certified both as an Arboretum and a Backyard Wildlife Habitat.

The house and spring are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and visitors are welcomed for guided historic tours.  The Greenville Council of Garden Clubs, Inc. takes pride in serving as custodian of this culturally significant property and in overseeing its preservation so that current and future generations may enjoy it.

Exactly who built the Kilgore-Lewis House has been the subject of a long-standing controversy.  May of 1838, George Boyle sold to Josiah Kilgore for $1200 “a certain lot of land near the Village of Greenville on which I now reside…”  This property was bounded by the streets now known as College, Academy, and Buncombe, near Buncombe Street United Methodist Chursh in the heart of downtown Greenville, SC.

Was the house actually built by George Boyle, as one respected study maintains, or was the Palladian-style, metal-roofed house built by Josiah Kilgore as local tradition has always held?  Regardless of which is correct, the house was almost 20 years old before Josiah Kilgore deeded it in 1855, to his daughter Mary Keziah and her husband, John Wycliffe Stokes.  While it was not built as a wedding present for the couple, Josiah Kilgore gave them the house shortly after they were married, and there is no reason to doubt the romantic tradition that Mary K., and John were married in the front parlor of the home.  For 130 years the house would remain a private home, for several generations of Kilgore descendants – families of Stokes, Gaines, and finally Lewises.  Thus the house became known as the Kilgore-Lewis House.

When the last resident chose to downsize to a smaller, more manageable home, the house was briefly used by the Methodist Church for Sunday School facilities. The church soon realized, however, that the house was not adequate for their needs and decided to tear down the home.

Photo of House Move Courtesy of Joe F. Jordan.The Greenville Council of Garden Clubs soon stepped in with a restoration plan in mind. The Council negotiated to lease land on North Academy Street from the City of Greenville. Through a variety of fundraising projects, the Council also raised over $100,000 to finance the move, restoration and furnishing of the house. The house was actually moved to its new brick foundation on April 24, 1974. The move was so successful that not one window was cracked en route.

Since 1974, the Kilgore-Lewis House has served as the headquarters for the Greenville Council of Garden Clubs. The house and its five-acre, wooded grounds provide a meeting place for the Council, its Board of Directors and committees, and its twenty gardening clubs. In addition to Council activities, the house and its surrounding gardens serve as a favorite location for events such as weddings, receptions, family celebrations and small business meetings.