Abingdon Manor History
The only luxury accommodations in the Carolinas or Georgia close to Interstate 95, Abingdon Manor is listed by AAA as a “Classic Country Inn” and has received the prestigious Four Diamond rating for twelve consecutive years. The property, on the National Register of Historic Places, was built at the beginning of the 20th century as an opulent private home and, while now an Inn, retains the feel of a private residence. Ranked among the best Inns in the country, it is located in the heart of the historic district of the charming village of Latta, just 25 miles north of Florence, SC.
Purchased by Michael and Patty Griffey from Miami, Florida in 1995 to operate as a luxury Inn and Restaurant, thoughtful renovations, decorating and extensive landscaping have turned this magnificent building into a refined, elegant setting for discriminating travelers. With only seven guest rooms in the 10,000 square foot Inn privacy, peace and tranquility are assured.
The Manor was built by James H. Manning who was born in 1857. He lived all of his 79 years in the Latta area. He and his wife, Florence, had eleven children, six of whom lived to maturity. Mr. Manning’s ancestors immigrated to Virginia from Europe in the 1730s and to South Carolina at the time of the Revolutionary War. The family is extensive with direct descendants still living in the neighborhood. James Manning was a prosperous farmer, owning over 7,200 acres of land. Well respected, he was elected the first State Senator from Dillon County after its creation in 1910, serving without opposition for eight years.
The two story brick structure is one of the largest residences in Dillon County with 10,000 square feet of inside space and over 2,000 feet of verandahs. The style is Greek Revival, influences of which came from England to America and South Carolina in the late 1800s. Construction began in 1902 and took three years to complete.
The exterior walls are 18 inch, solid brick as are many of the interior walls. There are forty columns on the porches, all of which are trees that were grown on Manning land. Most archetectural details remain including the twelve fireplace mantels and mirrors.
The brickwork on the outside of the house is quite unusual, with several different courses of brick. The mortar for the foundation and top courses of brick is sand color, while the mortar for the main part of the house is red, which was hand painted. The sawtooth edging on the corners and around the windows is unique for a private home.
The shutters in the ground floor rooms and the two front upstairs bedrooms were custom made for the house and are counter weighted and operate on ropes and pulleys. Closet doors in the dining room and library open to the ladies’ and gentlemen’s parlors and allowed servants to provide wood and coal without entering the parlors.
The house remained in the family until 1970, and was known as the Aston House after Senator Manning’s only daughter, Gertrud, who inherited it at his death. The family sold the house in 1970 and the new owners opened and operated a bridal shop called “Wedding World” for twenty years.
In 1992 the house was purchased by a couple who performed a basic restoration of the property and opened it as “The Manning House” a Bed and Breakfast in 1994.
The current owners, Mike and Patty Griffey, bought the property in 1995 and began a thorough upgrading, remodeling and redecorating of the property. Having traveled throughout England, the Griffeys were reminded of an English Country Estate, Abingdon Manor near Oxford. The “English” Abingdon Manor was built in approximately 1400 and was a meeting place for Henry VIII and Ann Boleyn.
Michael and Patty both owned successful businesses in Miami over 25 years and regularly entertained in their home in Coral Gables. Having traveled extensively for business and pleasure throughout the United States, the Caribbean and parts of Europe, the Griffeys first started discussing operating an Inn when visiting St. Kitts, a Leeward Island in the mid 1970s. While affiliated with a company in Connecticut, Michael was a regular guest at a local Inn and he and Patty were “bitten with the hospitality bug”. Waiting another 10 years, they began to search for a property in which to create an oasis for travelers. After selling their respective businesses and home they traveled for 8 months looking for the right property. South Carolina provided a perfect venue for what they wanted to accomplish, with friendly residents, temperate climate and a central location on the east coast. The Griffeys purchased James Mannings legacy on their first visit, knowing that the potential existed to develop a truly unique Inn.
Abingdon Manor is located in the Town of Latta which came into being in 1887 when the Atlantic Coast Line railroad built their “Wilson Short Cut” line from the Pee Dee settlement (Florence) just north of the Great Pee Dee river in Marion Country to Wilson, North Carolina. Depots were built in Latta and Dillon in 1888. The “Wilson Short Cut” ran from Wilson to Latta and eliminated the necessity of traveling to Wilmington in order to reach many South Carolina points. This “Wilson Short Cut” acted as a magnet in bringing more and more families to this area.
The name Latta came from Captain Robert Latta. He was a York County, South Carolina native who was in charge of the engineering for the railroad but he also drew up the original town map of forty acres. Soon a town of 467 people sprang up around the depot named for Captain Latta.
Due to the excellent railroad facilities, Latta grew rapidly during the decade before the formation of Dillon County, which was created in 1910 as the forty-third county formed in the State. The town of Latta was incorporated by an act of the State legislature when the State of South Carolina issued it a charter in March 1890. Latta then became a full fledged municipality. The charter in 1890 claimed that Latta was laid out in a circle with a radius of one-half mile. Due to its expansion, Latta has now grown to approximately a one mile radius.
Latta today retains the charm of that 1900s village and much of it’s heritage has been retained. The original one room post office/corner store, one room post office, first doctors office, last Carnegie funded Library, first two story house and original pharmacy constitute the four corner “Museum Complex” at the entrance to town.