Cherrydale Alumni House
On March 7 and 8, 1999, Expert Movers of Virginia used their engineering skills to move the huge home three miles along Poinsett Highway to its present location at the highest point of the Furman campus. During homecoming that same year, the university dedicated Cherrydale as Furman’s Alumni House.
For almost 150 years, Cherrydale stood at the foot of Piney and Paris mountains in Greenville, surrounded first by acres of thick woods and fertile fields and later by the Stone Manufacturing Company and busy Poinsett Highway. The 4,960-square-foot house was the home of Furman University’s first president, James Clement Furman, and his wife, Mary, for many years.
The origins of the house are somewhat hazy. In 1852, George Washington Green purchased 350 acres of land “on the waters of Richland Creek and Reedy River” at the foot of Piney Mountain for $1,500. There he built “Green Farm,” a modest one-story dwelling that is now the rear wing of Cherrydale. On March 2, 1857, Green, who had moved to Mississippi, sold that land and an additional 100 acres to James Clement Furman for $7,000. This $5,500 price difference suggests that Green constructed the house between 1852 and 1857.
Between 1857 and 1860, Furman and his wife, Mary Glen Davis Furman, remodeled Green Farm, adding four rooms and a new entrance with a front porch, four Greek-Revival-style columns, and a three-bay portico. It is said that Mary had fashioned the new front of the farmhouse after that of her childhood home. By 1860 the Furmans were calling the renovated house “Cherrydale.”
The Cherrydale farm was three miles from downtown, where Furman University was then located, so James Clement Furman kept a separate residence near the university while school was in session. His wife spent considerably more time at the farm, where she would keep her husband abreast of day-to-day events through correspondence. Mary’s letters, which describe life on the farm in vivid detail, are preserved in the James B. Duke Library archive. Furman retired as president in 1881 and lived his final years at Cherrydale writing and preaching. He died in an upstairs bedroom of the house in 1891.
Furman willed Cherrydale to his wife, Mary, who sold much of the surrounding land but continued to live there until her death in 1911. Mrs. Furman’s will transferred ownership of Cherrydale and the remaining property to her children, Dr. Davis Furman, Kincaid Furman and Mamie Furman Goldsmith. Mrs. Goldsmith lived there until the mid-1930s, when she moved to New York. In 1939 she sold Cherrydale, together with 55 acres of surrounding land, to Mr. and Mrs. Eugene E. Stone III.
The Stones discovered the house to be in terrible condition, with no electricity, heat or water, a sagging front veranda, and an open porch along one side. They modernized and restored Cherrydale to be their home, and in 1976 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Although they eventually moved and sold the adjoining manufacturing plant to Umbro International, the Stone family retained possession of Cherrydale. It was extensively and carefully renovated in 1997 as a corporate guesthouse. However, when AIG Baker bought the plant site from Umbro International in 1998 with plans to construct Cherrydale Point shopping center, it also purchased the Cherrydale property. Together the Stone family and AIG Baker donated the house to Furman.
Excerpted from the brochure, Cherrydale: Furman’s Alumni House.
Reserve the Home
Cherrydale Alumni House serves as a beautiful venue for intimate gatherings of friends, families and colleagues. Reserve Cherrydale for your next event.