In 1845, a twenty-year-old John L. Hart bought from his brother-in-law Colonel T.c. Law some 491 acres of virgin pine forest. Here he established Hartsville Plantation and thus it was known as late as 1913. The Plantation ran along East Home Avenue to U.S. 15, now known as Fifth Street, which dead-ended on Home Avenue, there being only a pine forest beyond Home Avenue.
Tradition states that with his own hands, John L. Hart helped to fell the trees and build his home. He also built a carriage factory (the town’s first industry), steam-powered sawmill, gristmill, worker’s homes, store, post-office, school (The Academy) and church, Hartsville Baptist Church, now known as First Baptist Church.
The John L. Hart Cottage remains a landmark today. It is the only known structure from John Hart’s plantation in downtown Hartsville.
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