This entry includes a virtual tour! Take the tour.

This nineteenth-century plantation dwelling house was originally built in 1803, and today Fort Hill: National Historic Landmark stands at the heart of Clemson University’s main campus. Fort Hill was home to John C. Calhoun, South Carolina’s most prominent statesman of the era, his wife, Floride Colhoun Calhoun, and their seven surviving children. At Floride’s death, Fort Hill property passed to Anna Maria, the Calhouns’ older daughter, and the wife of Thomas Green Clemson. Anna’s will left Fort Hill to her husband, as long as he died with a will, and his will brought forth Clemson Agricultural College, now known as Clemson University. In accordance with Mr. Clemson’s will, Fort Hill remains preserved, restored, and open for the public. The future of Clemson University is “rooted in its past, born from a gift made when Thomas Green Clemson and his wife Anna Calhoun Clemson called Fort Hill their home. It was in this house that they dreamed of a high seminary of learning for South Carolina. What began as discussions between a husband and wife in this historic house has grown into one of the nation's leading public universities.” Fort Hill offers guided tours of the home Monday-Sunday and special tours for schools and other groups can be scheduled for groups of ten or larger by contacting Historic Properties. Our website hosts a variety of educational resources and other research materials on the home and the people connected to it. Check out our virtual tour made by SC ETV! (link below)


  • Fort Hill: National Historic Landmark
    Fort Hill: National Historic Landmark
  • Fort Hill in the Fall
    Fort Hill in the Fall
  • Historic Fort Hill
    Historic Fort Hill
  • John C. Calhoun
    John C. Calhoun
  • Floride Colhoun Calhoun
    Floride Colhoun Calhoun
  • Thomas Green Clemson
    Thomas Green Clemson
  • Anna Maria Calhoun Clemson
    Anna Maria Calhoun Clemson
  • African Americans at Fort Hill
    African Americans at Fort Hill

On land near the Cherokee’s Lower Town called Esseneca, stands Fort Hill, the antebellum plantation of John C. Calhoun, South Carolina’s pre-eminent 19th century statesman. Before Fort Hill, there was a small, four-room home called Clergy Hall which was originally built in 1803, serving as the manse or parsonage for the nearby Hopewell-Keowee Church, now called Old Stone Presbyterian Church. Clergy Hall and its 600 acre property were purchased by Floride Bonneau Colhoun, John C. Calhoun’s mother-in-law. In the 1810 U.S. Census, there were twenty-five enslaved African Americans at Clergy Hall. 

Enslaved African Americans transformed the land into a working 19th century plantation, whose primary cash crop was cotton.Ten rooms were added to the dwelling house, and, by 1830, the U.S. Vice President and his family called their new home Fort Hill, after nearby Revolutionary War Fort Rutledge. In 1836, at the death of his mother-in-law, John C. Calhoun gained ownership of the land. At his death in 1850, his wife, Floride, became the sole owner of the property. Of the Calhouns ten children, seven lived to adulthood: the eldest Andrew Pickens Calhoun (1811-1865), Anna Maria (1817-1875), Patrick (1821-1858), Dr. John Caldwell, Jr. (1823-1850), Martha Cornelia (1824-1857), James Edward (1826-1861), and William Lowndes (1829-1858). 

Only Anna Maria Calhoun Clemson outlived her mother. Anna Maria married Pennsylvania native, Thomas Green Clemson, IV, in 1838, and they had two children who lived to adulthood, John Calhoun Clemson and Floride Elizabeth Clemson. After Floride Calhoun’s death in 1866, portions of the property went to Anna Maria and Floride Elizabeth; however, both of the Clemsons’ children would pass away before their mother would take ownership of the land. After Anna’s death in 1875, she willed her three-fourths share of Fort Hill to her husband, if he died with a will. If he died intestate, their granddaughter, Floride Isabella Lee, would inherit the entire property instead of the one-fourth she would have inherited before. 

In 1888, Thomas Green Clemson passed with an extensive will that bequeathed three-fourths of the Fort Hill plantation and $80,000 to South Carolina for the establishment of Clemson College, today known as Clemson University. A part of Mr. Clemson’s will, Fort Hill “shall always be open for the inspection of visitors.” Today, Fort Hill remains open and preserved for public tours and a glimpse into the history of Clemson University.

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South Carolina ETV. “Fort Hill, Clemson, SC,” June 24, 2019. https://www.scetv.org/fort-hill-clemson-sc.

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Image Sources(Click to expand)

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