Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Green River Plantation is an expansive, forty-two-room mansion perched atop a rise over-looking the flood plain of Western North Carolina’s, Green River. Located just seven miles from downtown Rutherfordton, North Carolina, the original Federal-style, Green River House was constructed in the years 1804-1807 by Joseph McDowell Carson. The sprawling four-story house was built by Carson for his beloved wife, Rebekah, and faced northwest towards the Green River. Joseph McDowell Carson was a distinguished lawyer and represented Rutherford County in the North Carolina House of Commons in 1813 and 1814. He was elected to the state senate in 1832, 1836, and 1838.
Perhaps the most infamous of the early Green River Plantation owners was Samuel Price Carson, half-brother to Joseph McDowell Carson. Samuel Price Carson served as a U.S. Representative for North Carolina and fought one of the most talked about duels in North Carolina history, between he and Dr. Robert Vance, which left Dr. Vance mortally wounded. During the Greek Revival period of the pre-Civil War days (c. 1820-1840), Samuel built a separate structure of similar proportions as the original Green River House but slightly to the rear of the original structure.
Following the Civil War, the two structures were united with a center hall, which today contains the mansion’s glorious main staircase. Sixteen hand carved mantels from Philadelphia, scores of millwork patterns, crown molding, hand-glazed window panes, intricately designed door hinges and window latches were also included in the construction of the “big house.”
In the tradition of landscaping grand homes of the 19th century, an English garden was designed, including a maze of boxwoods, for the plantation’s front lawn. Surrounding the “big house” were various structures including a smoke house, ice house, plantation kitchen, stables, and slaves cabins. Following the Civil War, the plantation was bought by Frank Coxe, husband of Mary Carson Mills, who was a granddaughter of the original owners and had lived there as a child. They spent most of their time in Asheville, North Carolina and used Green River as a summer home. Coxe was an investor in real estate and railroad interests as well as a leader in the development of Asheville as a health resort and vacation center.
The plantation later became the property of Miss Maude Coxe, daughter of Frank and Mary Coxe. Miss Maude lived there for 30 years and after her death bequeathed the property to her niece, Mrs. Daisy Coxe Forbes, whose sons later inherited the property. Those sons, who were the great-great-great-grandsons of the original builder, sold the property in 1958, and thus for the first time in six generations ownership of the property passed out of the original family. Since then the house has passed from owner to owner and eventually sat uninhabited for a period of over five years before Eugene and Ellen Cantrell purchased the plantation in 1987. The house had fallen into a serious state of disrepair, and the restoration project, which the Cantrells undertook to return the mansion to its former glory, was an extensive one. Great pains were taken in trying to recreate original paint colors and floor finishes. Window treatments and accessories were carefully chosen in the interior design of the mansion, as the Cantrell family worked to recapture the era in which the home was built.
Today, the Cantrell family retains ownership of the plantation estate known as Green River Plantation
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