Carl Sandburg Home close up - large white house from front with porch featuring 4 columns and a "T" style staircase. Large shrubs on the left of the house obscure just how large the home is.
Carl Sandburg Home From the top of the hill.

Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site

About the Sandburg Home National Historic Site

In the 19th Century, Flat Rock, North Carolina was the summer playground of the rich and influential. Nicknamed “Little Charleston in the Mountains”, the population would swell starting in late spring with people fleeing the mosquitoes and heat of the Carolina Coast.

It was here that Christopher Memminger chose to build his summer home. Memminger, a successful Charleston lawyer, would later become the first Confederate Secretary of the Treasury and was the chief architect of Jefferson Davis’ economic policies. In the 1830’s he built a Greek Revival mansion in Flat Rock and called it “Rock Hill” as it was on the slope of Big Glassy Mountain.

In the years after Memminger’s death, the house and surrounding acreage were bought and sold to number of wealthy families who continued to use it as a summer home. It was eventually sold to Ellison Adger Smyth, a textile magnate from South Carolina. He changed the name of the property form “Rock Hill” to “Connemara” after his ancestral district in County Galway, Ireland.

Carl Sandburg Makes his Home in the Mountains

While Smyth was amassing his fortune, Carl Sandburg was hard at work honing his craft. Beginning his career as a reporter in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he later served as a secretary to Emil Seidel, socialist mayor of Milwaukee. Carl Sandburg and his wife Lilian later moved to Chicago where he was hired as a reporter by The Chicago Daily News. This is about the time he began writing poetry and won his first Pulitzer for his collection “Cornhuskers”. Sandburg also began working on his six volume biography of Abraham Lincoln that would later earn him yet another Pulitzer.

By the 1940’s Carl Sandburg and his wife where living in Michigan and began looking for a new home in a warmer climate. Lillian Sandburg had begun raising a heard of prize winning goats that was rapidly expanding. She needed a more suitable location to raise her “Chikaming Goats” and her husband needed peace and solitude for his writing. They found both when they arrived at Connemara in 1945. “What a hell of a baronial estate for an old Socialist,” Sandburg is reported to have said when he first saw his new home. But he and Lillian moved in and set about turning this once lavish estate into a working farm and writers retreat.

During the following 22 years, Carl Sandburg would continue to write. He produced a third of his written works while living at Connemara and would go on to win his third Pulitzer. In 1965, while living in the home built by Christopher Memminger, the man considered to be the principle author of the Confederate Constitution, Carl Sandburg became the first white man to be awarded the NAACP’s Silver Plaque Award and was referred to as a “major prophet of civil rights in our time.”

After Carl Sandburg’s death in 1967, Lillian Sandburg offered the farm in Flat Rock to the US Government to be used as memorial to her husband.

The Sandburg Home National Historic Site Today

The home and 264 surrounding acres are open to the public seven days a week excluding Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day. The home has been turned into a museum featuring photographs, letters, maps, books, as well as Sandburg family belongings illustrating how they lived at Connemara in the middle of the 20th Century.

After touring the house, you can stroll around the other preserved buildings, most of them original to the property. Just outside you’ll find what was originally the kitchen but was converted into a garage when the Sandburgs updated the home. No visit would be complete without a walk to the barn where you’ll find the decedents of Lillian Sandburg’s goats.

The 264 acres of the park include pastures, ponds, and small mountains. Over five miles of hiking trails run throughout including a 3 mile trek to the Glassy Mountain look out, one of the Sandburgs’ favorite spots. Picnic tables can be found near the main entrance.

You might want to plan your visit around some of the special events held at the amphitheater built by the park service. Visit the Sandburg Home Historic Site Online to find out about music festivals, sing-along, readings of Carl Sandburg’s poetry, or their special Christmas program.

Fast Facts About the Carl Sandburg Home Historic Site

Type:Historic Home and Park part of the National Parks Service
Admission:Free for grounds, trails and barn
House Tour: $8.00 Adults 16 and older; $5.00 Adults 62 and older; Children 15 and under free
Location:1800 Little River Rd, Flat Rock, NC 28731
Phone(828) 693-4178
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Things to do at the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site: Home Tours, Special Programs, Barn Tours, Hiking, Bird Watching, Picnic Tables

Map to Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site