Grant helps fund lecture series about Rock Hill’s 'founding mother'

adouglas@heraldonline.comMarch 19, 2013 

— An $8,000 grant will help a local nonprofit group tell the story of Ann Hutchison White – the woman some consider to be the founding mother of Rock Hill.

With money from the state Humanities Council, Historic Rock Hill plans to host three lectures over the next year and implement permanent exhibits at the White Home – one of the first houses built in Rock Hill.

“It’s a huge amount of money for us,” said Annemarie Beebe, Historic Rock Hill’s executive director.

The group hosts frequent tours of the nearly 175-year old home on White Street, in the east end of downtown Rock Hill.

With private donations and $500,000 from city and county money, Historic Rock Hill bought the house from the White family in 2005 and spent five years and about $2.5 million to restore the property.

Ann Hutchison White’s story is one of an “upcountry entrepreneur,” Beebe said.

“She was a very strong woman, very independent.”

Her story is “extremely uncommon” in the South during the period she lived, Beebe said.

Hutchison married Fort Mill’s George Pendleton White in 1837. They built their home in Rock Hill two years later.

In 1849, White was widowed and left with five children.

She took in boarders and used the rent money to develop the family’s farm, Beebe said.

With the Humanities Council grant, Historic Rock Hill hopes to teach White Home visitors about Ann Hutchison White’s contributions, which include helping bring the railroad to the city and starting some of Rock Hill’s first churches and schools.

A lecture in June, supported by the grant money, will include some of White’s descendants – three of whom sit on Historic Rock Hill’s board of directors, she said.

The new programs will help “beef up” Historic Rock Hill’s presentations and focus on women’s history and Southern studies, said Randy Akers, director of the Humanities Council.

The council is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities – a federal agency that took a hit in the March 1 budget sequestration.

The state’s Humanities Council could lose up to $35,000 in the budget cuts, Akers said.

The cuts won’t affect Historic Rock Hill’s grant, he said, but could reduce the money available for educational and cultural groups in the future.

For information on Historic Rock Hill’s White Home and other projects, visit www.historicrockhill.com or call 803-329-1020.

Anna Douglas •  803-329-4068

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