Cherrydale Alumni House

Seeking Abraham at Furman University

Cherrydale Alumni House

Greenville, South Carolina 29617, United States

Created By: Brandon Inabinet


Stand on the front porch of this beautiful antebellum home. Admire the red maples lining the drive. It’s the best view on Furman’s entire campus. Straight ahead is Paris Mountain, on the left is "Blue Wall" of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the escarpment with between a 1,300 to 2,500 feet drop.

The land of Cherrydale (now home to Cherrydale Point Shopping Center) was granted to Joseph Langston in 1786, only a decade after the Treaty of Dewitt's corner had taken the land from the Cherokee nation. Langston had six enslaved persons to work the land; over the years the legal owners changed and the number of enslaved workers grew, until James C. Furman purchased the land and home in 1857, enlarging the home and forcing 50 enslaved persons to work the land.

His wife Mary Glenn Davis Furman, coming from her father's immense Winnsboro slave plantation, insisted on the size and renovations to make the home suit her lifestyle. When her mother passed away, she also inherited enslaved persons and the wealth to expand. The farm grew grew crops such as cotton, corn, apples, peaches, and cherries--thus, Cherrydale--as she signed a letter calling the estate.

After the war and the end of slavery in 1865, Cherrydale was no longer profitable and James C. Furman tried to sell it, with no success. When he retired as university president in 1881, he made Cherrydale his permanent residence with a much smaller farm to manage. He passed away ten years later in 1891 and left the house to his wife. His wife Mary sold much of the land but stayed in the home until her death in 1911.

In 1939, Cherrydale was bought by Eugene E. Stone II, who updated the plumbing, central heat, and electricity. The home underwent more renovations in 1997, and served as a romanticized reminder of the Old South in the form of a guest home. When the Stones sold the land to construct a suburban strip mall, they donated the home to Furman University, and descendants paid to have it moved to campus in March of 1999--a massive undertaking that included removing electrical lines along Poinsett Highway and a slow daylong trek, as the large home rode the two mile journey up the four lane highway.

A new plaque out front lists the names of the enslaved persons we know. Abraham, Clark, Joanna, Jethro, Mary, Pharis, Primus, Richard, Sylvia, and Toney. It offers a new chapter in recognizing the contributions of the enslaved who contributed to the success of the university and their story, as we continue to seek out the stories and identities of our shared ancestors.

Reflections Questions:

Furman's land acknowledgement, created in 2019, reads: "We acknowledge that Furman University occupies traditional land of the Cherokee People, a land where the Catawba and other indigenous people might also have found food. Long before our Alma Mater sang of the mountain river that laves ‘our mother’s’ feet, the Cherokee honored that water, the land through which it flowed, and all the creatures living on the land with them. From the natural world, they also learned to live and form communities of respect. It is with gratitude that we, too, honor the land and the people who have stewarded it through many generations. We also must acknowledge that we benefit from the Cherokees’ loss of land and commit to remembering the human cost of colonialism. This Land Acknowledgement challenges us to learn from the Cherokee people and to draw from their wisdom about community, resilience, and the meaning of life which this land nurtured." How could Furman appropriately pay homage or create equity in the campus landscape, beyond these important words?

How can Furman faculty, staff, students, and alumni best utilize this campus space with both its traumatic history and its incredible beauty?

This point of interest is part of the tour: Seeking Abraham at Furman University


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