Flat Rock began about a century and half ago with large summer estates being built in the English manner by the affluent Charlestonians, Europeans and prominent plantation owners of the South’s low country. The first great estate was built in 1827 by Charles Baring of Baring Brothers Banking firm of London, consisting of 3000 acres, which he named Mountain Lodge. Baring also built a private chapel on his estate which is now St. John In The Wilderness Episcopal Church.
The second large estate, called Argyle was built by Judge Mitchell King of Charleston, SC. He later donated the land on which Hendersonville was built and directed the laying out of Main Street.
Many other coastal families soon followed, until the settlement grew to about fifty estates. The families of South Carolina’s Low Country came to Flat Rock to escape the sweltering heat, yellow fever and malaria, which were running rampant. Summers in Flat Rock became a round of Southern gaiety in antebellum days. South Carolina’s Low Country gentry call Flat Rock The Little Charleston of the Mountains.
Most of these old estate homes still stand, surrounded by wide lawns, gardens, towering trees and white pillar porches, shielding their visibility from the highway. A few of these gracious homes remain in the possession of the families of the original owners. Many of these grand estates are now lovely planned communities.
The whole district of Flat Rock is included in the National Register of Historic Places, and Historic Flat Rock Incorporated is striving to preserve what remains in this area of the Old South.
Flat Rock is built around a tremendous outcrop of granite which is said to have been the site of Cherokee gatherings. A great deal of rock has been blasted away and used for highway material. The main rock can be found on the grounds of the Flat Rock Playhouse.
For information on the Village of Flat Rock visit www.villageofflatrock.org.