Kensington is an antebellum site long recognized as a historic landmark in Richland County. Recent work to the property focused on maintaining the historical integrity of the mansion. It is considered a hybrid restoration and rehabilitation because it included preserving, repairing and/or replacing existing fabric, while restoring and upgrading systems to ensure the property is functional and safe. Maintenance and repairs were necessary after the mansion roof sustained damage from an ice storm in 2014. Work on the mansion included a full roof replacement and significant interior and exterior repairs.
“International Paper has done an outstanding job at Kensington. The restoration and rehabilitation of two of the site’s structures shows the company’s commitment to ensuring that this nationally significant property is preserved and protected for future generations. Historic Columbia is delighted to join International Paper in re-introducing Kensington to the public.” - Robin Waites, Historic Columbia, executive director
Kensington Mansion is a Renaissance Revival Villa style mansion built between 1852-1854 as part of the Headquarters Plantation. Its builder, Colonel Richard Singleton, was a wealthy planter of cotton. His sister was Angelica Singleton Van Buren, daughter-in-law and hostess of President Martin Van Buren in the White House. It has 29 rooms and 12,000 square feet of floor space. Stylistically, Kensington is a contradiction. At its most basic, the home is a wooden farmhouse. The construction materials and design reflect the occupants’ need for functionality. The Italianate and Second Empire flourishes, on the other hand, are superfluous and wedged whimsically into the design. While both styles are significant in their own rights, the combination found at Kensington makes the site singular in South Carolina. The style reflects its owner’s experience in the antebellum South: existing in a culture entirely dependent upon agriculture, while simultaneously seeking luxury and wealth on an international scale.
International Paper, formerly Union Camp, purchased the Kensington property in the early 1980s and restored the mansion after it had beeen used as a storage area for farm equipment, fertilizer and feed for animals. Over the years, IP has used the property for a variety of company and community purposes and the property has had varying levels of public access. At this time, Kensington will be opened for select tours one to two times per year to offer the community a chance to learn about the site.