This six-story 30,000 square foot mansion, the largest octagonal house in America, was under construction in 1861 when the Civil War began. Built by cotton planter and inventor Haller Nutt, it epitomizes the rapid rise of wealth based on cotton production and slave labor in the mid-nineteenth century, and the swift loss of that wealth when the war started.
Most of the workmen were from the north and fled to their homes. Haller Nutt suffered financial losses and died during the war, and only the ground floor was completed. Nutt’s descendants continued to live at Longwood through the 1960s. Longwood contains original furnishings including a rare portrait of an enslaved manservant who remained with the family after emancipation.
The upper five stories remain unfinished and provide a fascinating view of mid-nineteenth century carpentry and architectural work, and a dream never realized. Longwood, a National Historic Landmark, is owned and maintained by the Pilgrimage Garden Club, whose mission is cultural and historic preservation.