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The visit that led to 'Hardin's garden'

John Hardin was driving to work one day when he passed the Charlotte Avenue garden of Hazel Bigger and her late husband, Dr. David Bigger.

"It happened to hit me, as I was riding by the garden, that maybe it was too much burden for her," then-Mayor Hardin would recall later. So he stopped by Hazel's home to talk.

Their conversation would become part of Rock Hill lore.

Harden suggested that Bigger, who had no heirs, might consider selling the garden to the city for $30,000, payable over 10 years. She agreed, and they struck a deal.

Hazel Bigger died a short time later, leaving Rock Hill with the stately grounds that would become Glencairn Garden.

Back then, critics labeled the park frivolous and dubbed it "Hardin's Garden."

"There were a lot of people who thought it was a huge waste of money," said David White, a Hardin friend. "A good many changed their minds."

Glencairn would come to reflect Rock Hill's focus on public beautification. Other projects have since joined the list: Cherry Park, the Civitas statues, a copper dome on City Hall, and more recently, a pair of brick towers along Interstate 77.

"John was thinking ahead," said Melford Wilson, a second cousin and former City Councilman. "He wanted Rock Hill to stand out from, at that time, all the little textile towns in South Carolina."

At Glencairn, an expansion and recent upgrades have brought new dazzle. Greeting circles are named in honor of John A. Hardin, ensuring the former mayor will have a place in the park he loved.