Fort Hill

Also known as: John C. Calhoun Mansion and Library
Clemson University campus, Clemson, South Carolina


Fort Hill

Photo from the Historic American Buildings Survey

View photos at Library of Congress



Fort Hill was the home of the nineteenth-century statesman John C. Calhoun and his son-in-law Thomas Green Clemson, the founder of Clemson University. The house began in 1803 as a small, two-story, four room building constructed by the Reverend James McElhenny the pastor at the nearby old stone church. John C. Calhoun acquired Fort Hill, then known as Clergy Hall, in 1825. He added ten rooms to the central core during several renovations and renamed his enlarged estate "Fort Hill" in 1830. Today Fort Hill also refers to the larger complex, including the house, Calhoun's Office, a reconstructed kitchen, a partially restored spring house, and immediate grounds. The structures are furnished with many artifacts from the Calhoun and Clemson families. Since the University's founding, Fort Hill has operated as a historic house museum, as stipulated by a provision in the will of Thomas G. Clemson.The historical significance of Fort Hill rests on the stature of John C. Calhoun, who served almost continually in national politics from 1810 until his death in 1850. In his office at Fort Hill, as Vice President, Calhoun reflected on the constitution and, in the fall of 1828, formulated ideas that were anonymously published as "the South Carolina Exposition and Protest." There, in July of 1831, he also penned his famous "Fort Hill Address" setting forth his doctrine of nullification outlining the concept of states' rights. Calhoun graduated from Yale University and the Tapping Reeve Law School in Litchfield, Connecticut. During his forty years of public service, Calhoun was a member of Congress (1811-17), Secretary of War (1817-25) under James Monroe, Vice President (1828-32) during Andrew Jackson's first term, Senator (1832-43), Secretary of State under John Tyler (1844-45), and again as Senator (1845-50). He is best remembered as a part of the great triumvirate in the U.S. Senate with Henry Clay and Daniel Webster. -- Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS SC-344)

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966
Reference number
Area of significance
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
B - Person
Property type
Historic functions
Single dwelling; Library
Current function
Periods of significance
1850-1874; 1825-1849
Significant years
1825; 1850
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 2
Non-contributing buildings: 1

Update Log 

  • November 10, 2013: New photo from Michael Miller

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