Beresford Hall was part of the original 950-acre land grant given to Richard Beresford on September 13, 1706. Beresford was from Barbados and was described as very ambitious. He was part of the settlers (Allstons, Gibbes, Middletons) that were focused on their goals not those of the Lord Proprietors. Beresford was very active in the new colony. He served on the Grand Council and was a member of the First Royal Assembly. “By the time of his death in 1724, he had served in nearly every public office that the colony had to offer.” In honor of his political service, two streets in the city were name for him. Beresford Alley (which is now Chalmers) and Beresford Street (which is now Fulton St). Both of these parts of town turned into a “red light district” and the streets names where changed in order to help “clean up the area.”
Richard Beresford was married twice, first to Sarah Cook who died giving birth to their son, John and then to Dorothy Mellish. They had a son named Richard. On March 17, 1724, Beresford was killed by a falling tree limb. At the time of his death, he had acquired 10 land grants encompassing over 4,800 acres of land. His estate was divided between his two sons except for a portion that was called the “Beresford Bounty.” This was a trust that was used to establish a free school for the poor of St. Thomas and St. Dennis parishes where his land grants were located. The Beresford Bounty is still at work today and is administered by the Episcopal Church in Pineville, South Carolina.
Richard Beresford, Jr. inherited Beresford Hall and lived on the property. The land was put up for sale in 1761. Per an advertisement in the South Carolina Gazette” the above lands are fit for plantations, sawing, brick making, lime-burning, cutting firewood, marketing, or keeping stock upon” (S.C. Gazette July 3, 1761)
The Land at that time was purchased by a prominent cabinet maker, Thomas Elfe. Thomas Elfe was from London and was given credit for starting the tradition of carving rice ears or stalks into the wooden posts of beds. These beds were called “Rice Beds.” His furniture was in high demand and from the 1768 to 1775, he sold over 1600 pieces of furniture. Elfe was an astute business man and he diversified his business holding by purchasing real estate. In addition to the Beresford Hall Plantation, he owned a plantation on Daniel Island (approximately where Blackbaud is located today.) Thomas Elfe and his family never resided at Beresford Hall for any length of time. Thomas Elfe had two sons, Thomas Jr. and George. George inherited the land from his mother or purchased Beresford Hall from his brother and did live on the property. It stayed in the Elfe family until 1888.
Sometime around 1790 a portion of the land was sold to Edward and Samuel Martin, who were brick makers. Remnants’ of their brick making operations and those of John Gordan, John Moore Jr. and Thomas Addison can be seen today throughout Beresford Hall.
In 1888, the Martin and the Elfe properties were bought by Emily Ward and then were combined with Palmetto Hall and Spring Hill Plantation. Between 1888 and 1935 this area changed hands at least six times. In 1935, this piece of land was purchased by the trust of the Guggenheim. They are one of the nation’s wealthiest mining families.
The Guggenheim Foundation sold 744 acres to Greenwood Development Corporation in 1999. Greenwood designed and developed Beresford Hall Settlement as we know it today. After two years, all the sites were sold to individuals.