Perched on a rise over-looking the flood plain of the Green River valley in Polk County, North Carolina, the Green River Plantation was established and built by a prominent Rutherfordton, NC lawyer, Joseph McDowell Carson. Construction on the old, Federal style home began in the early 19th century and was finished between 1804-1807.
Joseph McDowell Carson represented Rutherford County in the North Carolina House of Commons in 1813 and 1814. He was also elected to the state senate in 1832, 1836, and 1838 and he played a major role in mining gold in the Rutherfordton area.
A second structure was built in the Greek Revival style and sat alongside the original house. Once the two structures were united with a center hall and a main staircase, the "big house" grew in size to over 10,000 square feet, 42 rooms and spaces: A marvelous feat for its time.
Green River Plantation was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. And in the tradition of landscaping grand homes of the 19th century, an English garden was designed for the plantation's front lawn by its early inhabitants. Today, many of the original boxwoods still stand. Surrounding the "big house" were various structures including: a smoke house, ice house, plantation kitchen and stables. Joseph McDowell Carson's half brother Samuel Price Carson lived at the home for a time and was a Senator for North Carolina and a U.S. Representative for Western North Carolina. He fought one of the most famous duels of its time between he and Dr. Robert Vance of Asheville, NC. The duel left Dr. Vance mortally wounded from just one shot.
Following the Civil War, the plantation was bought by Colonel Franklin "Frank" Coxe, husband of Mary Carson Mills, who was a granddaughter of the original owners and had lived there as a child. The Coxes spent most of their time in Asheville and used Green River as a summer home. Frank Coxe rebranded the house "Green River House" during his ownership. He was an investor in real estate, coal mines in Pennsylvania, had railroad interests in North Carolina and was prominent 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 of ownership of the property, it passed out of the original family.
Since then, the property changed ownership two times and the house eventually sat uninhabited for a period of over five years before Eugene and Ellen Cantrell purchased the plantation in 1987. The "Big House" and the grounds had fallen into a serious state of disrepair, and the restoration project, which the Cantrell's 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's worked to recapture the era in which the home was built.
The Green River House and the plantation grounds are still a beautiful, old house and land that time has forgot. The house and grounds are privately owned by the Cantrell family.
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