September 2012: Behind the Gates- Rose Hill
Author: Frank Dunne, Jr.
Variety is an apt term to describe Rose Hill Plantation. It is unique among the private communities profiled so far in this series in that the former indigo and cotton plantation is actually two communities, north side (also known as estate side) and south side (also known as golf side), separated by Highway 278 about 10 miles inland from Hilton Head Island.
One of Rose Hill’s most noteworthy features is the estate side’s equestrian center with stables, paddocks and a polo field. With riding trails winding through the estate side, Rose Hill’s equestrian center offers residents a rare amenity in the Lowcountry. On the golf side, the 18-hole Rose Hill Golf Club lends the community an idyllic Lowcountry setting with fairway views, lagoons, magnolia trees and a medley of indigenous wildlife. The entire community covers more than 2,000 acres, and amenities in addition to the golf club and equestrian center include docks for fishing and boating on the Colleton River, tennis, swimming pools, and recreation parks.
Like two of its neighbors, Eagle’s Pointe and Crescent Pointe, Rose Hill Plantation offers a departure from the “golf is king” disposition present in so many other private communities in the area. That is, membership to the golf club is voluntary and open to the public. “If I had a buyer that did not want to have to belong to a golf course, but wanted beautiful amenities and covenants and a friendly atmosphere, then Rose Hill would be the perfect place. It attracts people of all ages and lifestyles,” said Holly Snyder, a realtor with Gateway Realty who also happens to reside in Rose Hill. Snyder estimates that Rose Hill residents are evenly split between working families and retired empty nesters. “It’s a really diverse mix of folks, and there are families with children on both sides.” And it’s not a transient population. “The community is comprised of 75 percent or more permanent residents,” she said. Also, short-term rentals are not permitted in Rose Hill.
David Alven, a retiree, and his wife Kathy have lived in Rose Hill for the past eight years, and they really enjoy having neighbors from all walks of life. “I kind of like seeing kids around, playing ball out in the yard and things like that,” he said. “You don’t get that as much in some of those other golf communities.”
Although there is no club membership requirement at Rose Hill, there is a clubhouse on the north side overlooking the Colleton River for residents’ use. Also taking advantage of proximity to the river is the Colleton Point area with a boat ramp, community dock and a meeting center to facilitate a dynamic roster of clubs and community activities. “It’s a very social atmosphere,” Alven said. “There’s a tremendous amount of activity and we’re continually having all sorts of events and gatherings.”
Rose Hill’s tennis amenities were recently expanded with the opening of Tennisclub of the Lowcountry, located on the south side. Tennisclub offers world-class instruction, USTA league and interclub teams, and private and group instruction. The facility features six clay courts and a 1,650 square foot clubhouse.
There are three swimming pools in Rose Hill, one on the north side, and two on the south side, and residents can also enjoy the water on a 42-acre freshwater lake or the Colleton River. The lake is stocked for fishing and welcomes canoes, kayaks and small electric powered boats. Although Rose Hill does not have a marina, boat and RV storage is available on the golf side, and the launch ramp on the river accommodates boats up to 20 feet in length.
The equestrian center is Rose Hill’s signature amenity. Operated by Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Maple (who rode Secretariat to victory in his last career race, the 1974 Canadian International Stakes), the center has 50 acres of pasture and 17 miles of riding and hiking trails, giving Rose Hill a unique contrast to the paved bike paths found in other communities. “There’s just something about seeing people riding by on horses,” Alven said.
In Rose Hill you’ll find everything from patio homes and duplexes to full size and estate homes. The home sites typically range from a quarter to a half acre on the golf side and one to three acres on the estate side, although some of the country estates are as large as four acres. “There is no defining style to the neighborhood, but most homes are traditional,” Snyder said. “It’s not ‘cookie cutter.’ You’re not going to see Models A, B, and C repeated all over the neighborhood, and I think that’s one of the draws.” Depending on the location, views can be fairway, park, lagoon, river, marsh, lake or wooded.
Homes currently on the market range in price from about $200,000 to $450,000 on the golf side and $400,000 to $1.5 million on the estate side. Unimproved lots fall into the $30,000 to $100,000 and $80,000 to $400,000 ranges on the golf side and estate side respectively.
In addition to all the amenities, Rose Hill Plantation’s overall aesthetics are what attract many who choose to live there. With a more natural, less manicured setting, plus a variety of home styles and larger home sites, Rose Hill’s character is more of an “organic” community than a master plan. “We were very impressed with the beauty and the large lots,” Alven said. “You don’t feel like you’re in a planned development. And it has the most beautiful trees!”
“I really think it is the friendly people in Rose Hill that make it unique,” Snyder added. “Rose Hill also has lots of trees and custom homes, which make it seem grounded and friendly.”
The Rose Hill Mansion
The historic Rose Hill Mansion, known as the most beautiful plantation house in the Lowcountry, has long held a treasured place in Southern history. Originally built in the late 1850s by planter and physician Dr. John Kirk and his wife Caroline, the plantation was a wedding present from Caroline’s father, James Kirk.
Work was halted by the Civil War, and while occupied through the years, the interior was not completed until 1946, when new owners John and Betsy Gould Sturgeon finished it in grand style. In 1980, the Welton family purchased the land, and the house was later listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1987, a fire devastated the house, and it sat in a state of ruin until purchased and restored by The Middleton White Foundation. After a decade-long restoration, the home is now shared with the public each day, via guided history tours. At the end of each hour-long tour, conducted by either the proprietor or a Kirk family descendant, refreshments are served in the mansion’s dining room.
The grand entry’s original open stringer spiral staircase is period grandeur. See the portrait of James Brown Kirk (original founder of Bluffton) and Dr. John Kirk, painted by granddaughter Emily, at the request of her mother Caroline. The Kirk family returned these portraits, as well as other family heirlooms and original documents when the home was opened for tours in 2007.
The Rose Hill Mansion is also available for weddings and corporate event rentals as well as private scheduled group tours, luncheons and wine tastings. The carriage house, connected to the mansion, can also be rented nightly or by the week.