This blog is a tribute to this grand home and all those who who have ties to Laurelwood. As the grandaughter of Jasper Hampton Campbell who purchased Laurelwood in 1908, I have many wonderful memories as a young child visiting Laurelwood. We fondly called it "The Big House". There were Easter egg hunts on the front lawn, Christmas celebrations, Sunday dinners, and a lot of time rocking in the rocking chairs on the front porch as my aunts shared stories about life on the Laurelwood plantation. They talked to us about their experiences and shared stories that their parents told them of life and happenings in the lower richland area. Many of these stories have been forgotten. I hope to bring these great stories back to life and preserve them just as Laurelwood is being brought back to life and preserved. There are hidden treasures to be revealed. A legacy to be handed down and passed on.
Let me help you look past the physical imperfections that you notice on first glance to see the hidden beauty that's just waiting to be revealed once again. The stories and information shared here will link the past to the present. There is much to be learned and many memories to share so that all can see the true beauty of ....Laurelwood.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Hard Hat Tour

We had a great time last weekend at Laurelwood! We are so grateful that we were invited to attend a "hard hat" tour and to have the opportunity to gather with some family & friends and make new friends.
Mike Bedenbaugh Director of the Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation
 It was an absolutely gorgeous day as people from all over gathered at the steps to the "Big House" as Mike Bedenbaugh, the director of the Palmetto Trust, welcomed us and invited us in to see restoration and renovations "in process".
The Seays have arrived!
 The descendants of the builder of the house, the Seay family traveled quite a distance to participate in the event.  It is always a delight to see them.  I love the fact that our families have been united by this great home!
Jeremy, Jenny, Mike and Myra
 I am so grateful to the new owners who have allowed the Seays and the Campbells to come together and celebrate the renovation and preservation of this spectacular property. I'm forever grateful!!!

Hand hewn beams
 The heart pine wooden beams are exposed & you can see the incredible workmanship that has stood the test of time!
 Tons of plaster has been removed. Lots of work going on here!!!
 I love telling my kids about the memories I have of this place. Lots of great memories here!
Headed to the cabin
We walked down the road to see the renovations on the former slave cabin that is on the property. I could hardly believe the restoration.  It looks fantastic!
My husband checking out the cabin
When I was a little girl, my Daddy would take me and my brother down to this cabin and we would set up tin cans outside and practice shooting the rifle.
 I was so glad to see my cousin Nancy at Laurelwood.  She actually lived in this cabin from the time she was a baby until she was six or seven years old.  She has wonderful memories of living with her family in this cabin as a child.
Nancy Louise & Me (Myra Grace)
 We enjoyed visiting and reminiscing about great family memories.

2 of our kids inside the cabin
The children really enjoyed the chance to be able to walk around inside the cabin.
I loved the color of the wood here.  I was so proud of all that had been accomplished.  The preservation of SC history is so important.
Hope you enjoyed a little peek of what's been happening at Laurelwood!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Preservation & Restoration is a Must

While driving this morning, I was listening to a radio program out of Rock Hill. I'm not sure what station it was on but what caught my attention was that the program was about preservation & restoration of endangered properties in SC.  The gentleman speaking was Lois Roman of the organization Citizens for Historic Preservation.  He spoke about encouraging the public to get involved in saving endangered properties and the historical importance of preserving history.  I thought about just how close Laurelwood came to being lost forever.  We believe that it was within 6 months of collapsing when the new owners were able to get the foundation secure.  I am forever grateful to the Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation for stepping in when they did in an effort to save Laurelwood. I am exceedingly grateful to the new owners who had a vision and a dream to restore Laurelwood.  With much sacrifice and blood, sweat and tears on their part we are seeing this dream realized! Thank you just doesn't seem to be enough to say to them.

Anyway, back to the radio program....Lois Roman was talking about the importance of knowing the history of a property. Learning about the people who lived there and stories tied to the property give the property a personality! I thought this was so great and this idea was one of the reasons that I wanted to start this blog.  I wanted to preserve the stories of Laurelwood and the memory of the people that lived there.

The Seay's
The Campbells
Many people have lived under the roof of the Big House or on the property of what is called Laurelwood Plantation.  Finding out about these people and the lives they lived there will continue to shape the personality of the house.  Also the new owners will add their own personality to the property, continuing to give life to Laurelwood.  
I am excited to have the opportunity to be at Laurelwood once again this coming weekend.  The Seays and the Campbells will meet up again along with other friends and family at the second "Laurelwood Gathering".  
Preservation and Restoration is a must if we are to continue teaching children about history and if we are to continue learning from the past.  Please make an effort to be involved in some way with the preservation and restoration of  historical properties.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Loveliness of Laurelwood

The loveliness of Laurelwood is emerging once again.  Breathtakingly beautiful!!! 
Painting & window restoration
Her beauty that has been hidden for a time is being uncovered layer by layer.  The process of restoring such a rare treasure takes a unique approach and must be handled delicately with great craft and skill.  In other words, the process of restoration does not happen overnight!
Original wood and windows were salvaged
Restoration is defined as 1. The return of something that was removed, or the restoring of something to it’s former condition 2. Something, especially a building, that has been brought back to an earlier and usually better condition. (Taken from the Encarta World English Dictionary) 

I believe that when the restoration of Laurelwood is complete the grand lady will be stronger, more vibrant and beautiful than ever.

New porch, smooth and level
I shudder when I think of what could have happened to Laurelwood had not the Palmetto Trust intervened and sought preservation.  I shudder when I think what may have happened had the new owners not purchased the property when they did.  The report from the workers who secured the foundation was that Laurelwood had been most likely 6 months away from collapsing!
Securing the foundation
 I am so grateful that the new owners acted with urgency and prevented this much loved piece of South Carolina history and my families history from being lost forever.

I have been given a precious gift by the new owners of Laurelwood.  They have allowed me to watch the restoration take place.  Most importantly they are allowing those of us who have family ties and connections to Laurelwood to have an annual gathering every year. I have been given the privilege of planning the event! This year will be the 2nd annual gathering at the Big House. I hope to have details soon so be sure to check back.

Windows lovingly restored
The preservation of historic properties are of the utmost importance so that we may protect our heritage. Please consider going to the Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation and see how you can get involved in saving a piece of the Palmetto state.  There may be another place out there that like Laurelwood is only months away from being lost forever.  Let’s not lose our Palmetto heritage. Let us instead seek to restore until it’s better than before. Uncover the hidden beauty of South Carolina.
Don't forget to check out the Friends of Laurelwood Facebook page to see the progress!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Coming Spring 2012
2nd Annual Laurelwood Gathering
Check back soon for more details

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Mystery Photos

Here are a few mystery photos.  These photographs belonged to Lillie Campbell Dunn and are now in the possession of her granddaughters.  If you have any information about these photographs or possibly can identify the persons please leave a comment or send a personal email to me at

Mystery Photo #1
Mystery Photo #2

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Keeping the Legacy Alive

What an exciting day of sharing information about family history.  My Saturday started early with the Fort Jackson Landowners Descendants Reunion.  Reggie Seay, a great, great, great, great (not sure how many greats) grandson of James Seay who we believe was the builder of Laurelwood, did a wonderful presentation of the history of Laurelwood.  His presentation included some amazing video which showed the original hand hewn beams that Laurelwood was constructed with are still structurally sound and intact.  They don't build houses like this anymore.  Laurelwood was built to last!

Reggie Seay doing a presentation on Laurelwood
Reggie has also done some extensive research about his family.  I am looking forward to learning more about James Seay and possibly finding the sites of other plantation homes he may have built.  It has been a blessing to get to know the descendants of James & Sarah Seay. I think it's pretty amazing how an old southern plantation is still at work bringing families together, uniting the past with the present.

Photo by Cliff Tucker
 Also on display at the Ft. Jackson Landowners Reuinion was a series of paintings of brother and sister Jasper & Lillie Campbell painted by family member Florence Keels wife of the late Thomas "Buddy" Bailey Keels the grandson of Mary Julia (Campbell)Bailey who was also sister to Jasper Hampton Campbell.  Florence wrote to me after she saw my blog back in July of 2010.  We have been corresponding since then and she has shared with me so much great information about our relatives.  Florence feels about Laurelwood the way I do.  It's a special place that holds lots of memories of love and laughter.  It's hard to explain if you've never felt a certain way about a place but there is something different about this piece of property that when you step onto the grounds you just know you are on an extraordinary piece of the planet!
Paintings done from old photographs by Florence Keels photo by Cliff Tucker
I have to admit one of the highlights of the day was meeting Florence in person.  I already felt as if I knew her because we have been corresponding through email. But it was a delight to actually meet her in person.  She and her son drove down to SC especially for the Landowners Reunion.
To top off an already great day, we were invited out to the country home of my cousin Becky Dunn (Lillie Campbell Dunn's) granddaughter.  Becky and I also connected through Florence and my blog.  We didn't even know each other existed until last year.  Becky invited us out to her home for an evening meal.  When I stepped out of the car at her house I thought I had "died and gone to heaven"!  Gorgeous house, barn, horses, flowers, garden all out in the country.
And just when I thought it couldn't get any better, Florence presented Becky and me with one of the portraits she had painted.  Becky received the one of her Grandmother Lillie Campbell and I received the one of my Grandfather Jasper Hampton Campbell.  Here we are in the photo below with Florence in the middle.  I was beyond thrilled to be the recipient of the painting of my Grandfather.

Florence in the middle presented her paintings to Becky and me.
We had a delightful evening together.  Becky's sister Bobbie and her husband Randy were there also.  Florence and her son Michael (who is an outstanding piano player) were there. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the evening.  We walked out to an old barn that's over a hundred years old and I just had to show you a picture because it is so beautiful.  Note, this property is not at laurelwood but just wanted to show it because it is incredible.
Florence and her son Michael in front of 100+ year old barn

Close-up of wooden barn with pine beams
Look at the construction of this barn!  Solid as a rock!!!  Does anybody else get as excited as I do with history and seeing these rare treasures?  I love it!  Would you just look at those pine beams and how they fit together to construct this barn.  I think it's quite fascinating.
All in all, it was a wonderful day of learning about our history and developing relationships and keeping the legacy of Laurelwood alive.

Friday, September 16, 2011

2011 Ft. Jackson Landowners' Descendants Reunion

The Campbell family once owned a great deal of land in Richland county.  Some of the land that they owned is now Fort Jackson.  Every year there is a reunion of families that are descendents of those that owned land that is now Fort Jackson.  The reunion this year will take place in Columbia.  Click the link below for more information.  This is a great time to get together and meet new family members or friends and share and exchange information about family and family history.

  4440 Ft. Jackson Blvd, Columbia, SC
   October 15, 2011  Start 9:00 AM

Friday, May 20, 2011

Winning Photo

I was two when my cousin Margaret Ann took this photograph on the porch at the Big House. Margaret Ann was very talented and creative with any thing she put her hands on whether it was a camera, a paint brush or a pen. This photo won the Blue Ribbon at the SC State Fair that year! This picture hung in the front room of the big house alongside a picture of my brother Steve until 1994 when the house was sold. I also found out that Margaret Ann was the painter of the painting that I used to admire mentioned in another blog post.
A lot of years have passed and here is me at age 48 standing in the very same spot as the above photo.
Posted by Picasa

A glimpse from the '90's.

We always enjoyed rocking in the rocking chairs on the front porch of the Big House.

My husband was rocking our daughter here in this picture that was taken around 1991-92. I think he was supposed to be rocking her to get her to take a nap, but I think he must have rocked himself to sleep!!!
I think this must have been around spring of 1992 in the picture below. My Daddy was living alone at the big house then. The azalea bushes had begun to get way out of control by this time. I imagine now that I know how vicious and fierce the bamboo was that it was all Daddy could do to keep that at bay and keep the grass cut. I was thrilled to find this picture below of my favorite china cabinet. I blogged about it several posts back and it is way more beautiful than I even remembered. Wow would you look at my BIG hair! That is me in the back and my oldest child was a toddler. This picture was taken in the front room to the right of the front door. I spent many hours as a little girl sitting in front of this china cabinet imagining table settings and dinner parties that I would host with beautiful dishes. The other recessed cabinet in the wall in the photo below held other special dishes and keepsakes including a collection of mustache cups. Here I am with my Daddy and my daughter. Another photo from the early 1990's. This also was taken in the front room of the house.

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Laurelwood Plantation Pound Cake

My aunts were great cooks. When it was a birthday, they would ask what our favorite cake was and we would tell them and they would make it for us. I vaguely remember a cake called a Ribbon cake, I think that was my brother Doug's favorite.  My brother Steve liked a German Chocolate cake. Me, well I just liked a plain pound cake!!! I still do!!!

Lemon Pound Cake with Mint, Berries and Cream
Photo from Southern Living Magazine
I have had so many requests for the recipe for my pound cake that I brought to the Laurelwood Family Gathering in April that I decided to post the recipe here and give my pound cake recipe a new name.  Here is the recipe! Make it and share it with someone.

Laurelwood Plantation Pound Cake
By Myra Campbell Phillips

6 eggs                                   ¼ tsp. salt
1 cup butter                          ¼ tsp. baking soda
3 cups sugar                         1 tsp. orange extract
1 8oz sour cream                  1 tsp. lemon extract
3 cups all-purpose flour       1 tsp. vanilla extract (must be real)
Leave butter out to soften and once it is soft cream butter with a mixer, then gradually add in the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time.  In separate bowl, sift the flour, salt, and soda.  Add flour to the mixing bowl of batter alternating with the sour cream, and ending with the flour. Add the extracts (I am a bit heavy handed with the extract because I like a lot of flavor, so it may be a tad more than a teaspoon of each.)  Pour batter into a greased tube pan that has been greased with butter and lightly floured.  Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

I took a stroll down the avenue today and to my delight and surprise my favorite roses of Laurelwood were blooming.  I have a memory of these roses taking over one corner of the avenue fence and being the most beautiful creamy palest of pink roses climbing gracefully along the fence of the avenue.  They were breathtakingly beautiful at one time and the picture is etched in my memory.  The blooms below were a bit spent but I still love their creamy pink color.  It's just a hint of what's to come as Laurelwood wakes up from it's slumber.
Roses on the avenue

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Laurelwood Plantation Family Gathering

The sweet tea was flowing generously once again at Laurelwood yesterday as family, friends and the new owners gathered together to rejoice in the re-birth of this magnificent family home.
Folks from various parts of the state as well as the country came together yesterday at the Big House.  We shared history, memories, stories and hopefully passed on our love for the place to the new owners who were so kind and generous to allow us this chance to come together.  At one point, there were at least 50 or more people on the grounds at one time yesterday! WIS TV came out at the end of the day. You can see the story here.  I must say however, that I was disappointed with the anchor's description of this grand home as "the dingy old digs" and "magnificent ruin". That was a very disrespectful way to describe this grand lady, even if she is in a state of disrepair.  I would also like to say that WISTV shared in-accurate information concerning the vacancy of this home, I am sure they were misinformed. They said that Laurelwood had been vacant for 20 years.  That information is inaccurate. My father still lived in the house in 1994. Then after it was sold from the Campbell family a lady from Sumter purchased the home and rented the property.  Only in the last 3-5 years has the property been vacant. I am a big fan of WIS and have watched their news since I was a little girl, hey, I was even on Mr Knowzit.  So I am not trying to give WIS a bad rap, I was just disappointed in this particular story. Not bad for being disappointed only once in 48 years. I am thankful to the media for their coverage but felt that their stories could have offered so much more.  For instance, the Seays and the Campbells meeting. What a GREAT story! I am glad to say that the State Newspaper did mention a bit of that story. You can read their story here. (They also were inaccurate in the time frame that they mentioned about my father living at Laurelwood. He returned there in 1969 and lived there until 1994 that is 25 years not 15)  The media could have talked about the fact that the civil war soldiers watered their horses in the well at the front of the house, and that the house was spared from being destroyed by Sherman's army because a minister lived there at the time. Or that one of the son's of Jasper Hampton Campbell, my uncle Calvin,was a great military hero and POW who fought in WWII as a bomber pilot and who's acts of extreme heroism in the face of danger saved many lives.  Or that my great grandfather Thomas Belton Campbell served in the Civil War.  Or that my Great,Great,Great,Great Grandfather was Captain James Campbell who built one of the Forts at the Congarees which was one of the first settlements in the midlands.  There is so much history here that needs to be shared!  Anyway, enough of my ranting and back to the gathering.  It was a great day!
This home is a valuable wellspring of historical information for the state of South Carolina.  The original owner and builder James H. Seay was a wealthy rice planter who built many other plantation homes.(My next quest is to find out where those homes are and if they still exist).  I was beyond THRILLED that his descendants were able to come and take part in the celebration yesterday and I am so eager to learn more about the Seay family and their history. I already claimed them as part of my Laurelwood Family but I bet if we dig deep enough we will find out that we are blood related.
My 5 children in the picture below loved the opportunity to be at The Big House yesterday.  Of course they have grown up hearing me talk about it and my oldest child spent a good bit of the first 2 years of her life visiting here when my Daddy was living here.  She called him Grandaddy Wild Thing!
My children, the Great Grandchildren of Jasper Hampton and Minnie Ammons Campbell
Below, the Seay family arrives at Laurelwood.  I just LOVED, LOVED, LOVED meeting them! They had to travel quite the distance to come but were planning to do some visiting of another great Carolina city, Charleston.  Hopefully they were able to experience some of the living history and re-enactments of the first shots of the Civil War.
The Seay's arrive at Laurelwood
The new owners seemed delighted to learn as much information as they could about the property. I imagine they were probably a bit overwhelmed with all the activity going on yesterday but they were certainly generous to allow us the opportunity to be there.  They even suggested that we might make this an annual event!!! How wonderful that would be!!!
Reggie Seay and the new owners.
Everybody enjoyed visiting and sharing information.  We couldn't have asked for a better day. The Laurelwood breeze was blowing through and it was very pleasant!
My grandfather, Jasper Hampton Campbell had a sister named Lilly Rebekah Campbell. ( I was so thrilled to know that the spelling of Rebekah is exactly how my daughter Rebekah's name is spelled & I didn't even know at the time that there was a Rebekah in our family) Her grandchildren were able to come and shared so much WONDERFUL information I could hardly contain myself on the drive home, reading about it all.  I hope to share a lot more about the Campbell history in the days to come.  The community of lower richland and columbia needs to be reminded of how influential and prominent the Campbell family was.  My grandfather and his brother Andrew were major landowners. The State paper many years ago reported that my great uncle Andrew Campbell at one time owned more acres of land than any other citizen of Richland county.  He was also one of the commissioners for Richland county for 16 years. They ran a mercantile business in Leesburg and Eastover. The Campbells were highly respected throughout Richland county. Below is Becky on the left a grandaughter to Lillie Rebekah Campbell and on the right is one of James Seay's great, great,.. (not sure how many greats) Grandchildren.   Our families meeting together yesterday was a MONUMENTAL event!!!!!!!
The Campbell's and the Seay's meet
I met relatives I did not even know that I had!!!!  Here is me and one of my newly found cousins below!!! I am pictured with Kathryn who is the Great Grandaughter of Mary Julia Campbell & Rev. Samuel Bailey.  Mary Julia Campbell was another sister of my Grandfather Jasper Hampton Campbell.   I love my new family!!!  Many thanks goes out to Florence Keels for her wealth of information and great  historical detective work that is allowing us to connect with family and put missing pieces together!

Historian Joe McGill and me
Historian Joe McGill stayed the night at Laurelwood last night.  He travels around sleeping in former slave quarters, making people aware of the importance of preservation.  He was not able to sleep in the remaining slave quarters structure last night but did sleep on the porch of the "Big House".
People enjoyed walking about, sharing memories and anticipating what a great future this home has.
Jenny and I already feel like family. We are already looking forward to next year!  The Seays and the Campbells came together to pass on a legacy to a new family that will revive and bring Laurelwood back to life so the history will continue and new memories can be made.
Jenny(great grandaughter of James H. Seay) and me
This grand lady has only been sleeping and now she awakens.
Roses coming back to life by the side porch.
The future is bright for this grand home and the new owners.