Kalmia Plantation - Hartsville Darlington County South Carolina SC

Kalmia Plantation – Hartsville – Darlington County

Kalmia Gardens 2014 - Darlington County, South Carolina
— Kalmia Gardens © Melissa Roberts, 2014 —
(Do Not Use Without Written Consent)

Basic Information

  • Location – Black Creek, Hartsville, Darlington County

  • Origin of name – The plantation's name is derived from the unusual abundance of mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) that grows here due to an 80-foot-tall bluff along the Black Creek. This bluff served as the ocean's fall line millennia ago, when the sea extended to the Pee Dee.

  • Other names – Laurel Land, Thomas E. Hart House

  • Current status – 22 acres of the original plantation, including the Thomas E. Hart House and Kalmia Gardens, are now owned by Coker College.


  • 1772 – Earliest known date of existence (2)

    Benjamin Davis was granted 200 acres by King George III (2).

  • 1817 – After many intermediate owners, Captian Thomas Edwards Hart purchased the property (2).

  • Circa 1820 – House built (2)

    Hart built the house with lumber cut from the property. He was the area's first postmaster, merchant, justice of the peace, and a leader of the local militia. He was also a planter. The surrounding community experienced significant growth and became known as Hartsville as early as 1837 (2).

  • Late 1830s – Thomas Hart faced a downturn in his financial standing which lead to him selling some of the plantation's property to son-in-law Thomas C. Law. Hart was able to retain much of the property including the house (1, p. 3).

  • 1842 – Thomas Hart died. Kalmia was held in trust by his brother-in-law, John W. Lide, for Hannah Lide Hart, Thomas's wife. She resided at the house until 1859 (2).

  • 1859 – Hannah Hart sold the remaining property and house to son-in-law Thomas C. Law (1, p. 3).

    Kalmia passed hands throughout the early 1900s and sadly, became neglected (2).

  • 1932 – Dr. William Chambers Coker, a noted botanist, obtained the property and gave it to his sister-in-law, Mrs. May Roper Coker (1, p. 2, and 2).

    Mrs. Coker was an avid gardner and returned Kalmia to a thriving estate. She also restored the home and built a rear addition (2).

  • 1935 – Mrs. Coker opened her garden gates to the public (2).

  • 1965 – Mrs. Coker gave 28 acres of Kalmia to Coker College in memory of her late husband, David Robert Coker (2).

Thomas E. Hart House 2014 - Darlington County, South Carolina
— Thomas E. Hart House © Melissa Roberts, 2014 —
(Do Not Use Without Written Consent)


  • Number of acres – 200 in 1772; 1,223 under Hart ownership; 44 in 1932; 28 in 1965 (1, p. 2-4 and 2)

  • Primary crops – Cotton, tobacco (2)


  • Number of slaves – ?

Kalmia Gardens Black Creek 2014 - Darlington County, South Carolina
— Kalmia Gardens Black Creek © Melissa Roberts, 2014 —
(Do Not Use Without Written Consent)

References & Resources

  1. National Register of Historic Places
    Nomination form - PDF - submitted in 1990
    Photographs, architectural overview

  2. History - by Kalmia Gardens of Coker College

  3. Photos of Kalmia Gardens

  4. Photos of the Thomas E. Hart House

Contact Information

  • Kalmia Gardens
    1624 West Carolina Avenue
    Hartsville, SC 29550

    Telephone: 843-383-8145
    Website: Click here

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