Poised atop one of central Florida’s Highest Hills is the stately two-story Chinsegut Hill Manor House that has been relatively unchanged since its construction in 1850. On the National Register of Historic Places, the Chinsegut Hill Museum, located in Hernando County, is brimming with artifacts and rich history. During the 1920s & 30s, this courtly estate welcomed prestigious guests such as Thomas Edison, Helen Keller, and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.
Chinsegut Hill was at one time the largest plantation in the county. It is situated off of Snow Memorial Highway east of Brooksville. The property consists of 115 acres of ecological preserve, a manor house, and several cabins.
The History of the land and Manor
Just two years after Florida became a state, Colonel Byrd Pearson from South Carolina laid claim to 160 acres of land in now Hernando County. Pearson named his property Mount Airy and, with the use of slave labor, began cultivating sugarcane. Pearson constructed a cabin on the site that is now the East Wing of the Manor.
In 1851 Pearson sold the plantation to another South Carolinian by the name of Francis Higgins. Soon after Higgins purchased the property, he began construction on the Manor. In 1866, the property was renamed Snow Hill after Doctor James Russel Snow, yet another South Carolinian, who married Francis Ederington’s daughter Charlotte and gained control of the plantation.
In 1904, Elizabeth Robins purchased the property for herself, her brother Raymond and his wife, Margaret. The Robins family renamed the property Chinsegut Hill and set out to improve the grounds. Between 1911 and 1933, many improvements and additions were made to the manor, such as the kitchen in the east wing of the house, a widow’s walk and ventilator, the west chimney, an expanded study, a music room, and five bathrooms. In 1917 additional land was acquired, and in 1933 electricity and a well were also added to the manor.
A View of Or Visit
Friends who live in the Brooksville area took John and me to visit the Chinesegut Hill Manor House. Our friends told us that they consider the grounds and the manor to be one of the area’s most beautiful and peaceful hidden gems and probably one of Brooksville’s best-kept secrets. Oops, it may not be a secret much longer.
History is everywhere on these magnificently well-kept grounds and to truly take it all in requires the use of all your senses. I could hear the peacefulness of the landscape. I saw the beauty of the towering old oaks and from one of them hung an old family swing; atop another was a treehouse. I could smell the blooming camellias; I felt sadness when noticing the young age of the family members buried in the family cemetery.
With recovered historical artifacts on display, The Tampa Bay History Center, a Smithsonian Affiliate, and an American Alliance of Museums accredited institution, helps to tell the story of Chinsegut Hill. Visitors can tour both the house museum and the grounds and find many different stories and perspectives from the land’s first inhabitants, the Seminole Indian, to Plantation land-owner to Slave. The tales span the decades from Progressive Era politics to the tragedy of the Civil War to the uncertainty of the Great Depression; history is told with the artifacts and stories of lives lived long ago.
Tour information & Address
Tours of the Manor are offered on Saturdays and Sundays only. Tickets are only offered online and must be purchased online in advance. Tickets – $5 | Children (6 & under) – Free. The Chinsegut Hill Historic Site is now open Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Guided house tours available every half hour. The last tour is at 4 p.m. For your convenience, use this link to be re-directed to Chinsegut Hill Historic Site for ticket purchase. The Adress of the Chinsegut Hil Manor is 22495 Chinsegut Hill Road in Brooksville.
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