In the mid 1830s, Charles Memminger of Charleston ventured to Flat Rock is search of a summer home. Unable to find something that he liked, he purchased land and hired an architect to build a large dwelling he named Rock Hill. Today the house is known by a different name, Connemara or, simply, Carl’s House. Carl Sandburg and his family moved to Flat Rock in 1945. It was Carl’s wife Paula who spurred the move from their life in the Midwest; she was looking for a new farm with a warmer climate to raise her famous Chikaming dairy goats. It is said that when she showed Connemara to her husband he exclaimed, “This is the place. We will look no further.”The Sandburgs lived in Connemara from 1945 to 1969 with their three daughters and two grandchildren.
During this time, Carl Sandburg published more than a third of his works while Paula Sandburg operated a premier goat farm. At the dairy farm’s peak, the herd had over 200 goats! When Carl died in 1967, Paula decided to sell the house to the United States government to preserve it as a memorial to her husband. Carl Sandburg’s Home is the only home of an American writer to have the distinction of being named a National Historic Site.
Goats at Connemara. All images by Jane Izard.
A visit to the site offers a range of activities for all with house tours, hiking trails and activities at the farm. If you have never visited, take time for a guided tour of the historic home; there are more than 65,000 artifacts on display. Tours are offered daily most days and last around 30 minutes. It is a third-of-a-mile mile trail up to the house; if you are unable to walk, please use the phone in the parking lot for assistance.
Today Connemara no longer operates as a commercial dairy farm. However, the National Park Service keeps goats on site, all descending from the three breeds Ms. Sandburg raised.
It is said that Mr. Sandburg would often take his chair out on one of the many rock outcroppings along one of the many trails to write or sit. He enjoyed being out in nature, observing his surrounds. The trails happen to be one of my favorite things about Connemara; there are approximately five miles of trails, varying in length and difficulty. The park’s close proximity to town is a draw for locals. Many frequent it daily to escape for some time in the woods. The longest and most strenuous hike is the trail to the top of Glassy Mountain. This mountain was the target of many of hike following July Fourth feasts and some families continue this tradition.
From the house to the top, the walk is about a mile-and-a-quarter with 523 feet in elevation gain. The view is spectacular and worth the climb. The other trails include Little Glassy Mountain, Memminger Trail Loop, Front Lake Loop and Spring Trail. One may combine many of these trails to create a nice long hike! If you take your dog, please make sure to have them on leash. Don’t forget your bags, water and camera.
For more information, please visit nps.gov/carl/index.htm.
Jane Izard is a freelance graphic designer, writer and photographer living in Flat Rock, N.C.; she grew up in Charleston and may be reached via email@example.com.
This blog post is syndicated directly from the article Jane wrote for the Charleston Mercury. We love sharing them and will be sharing more soon!