Step Elegantly Back in Time at the Lunney House Museum

By:Page Ivey

Date:10/24/2014

Just about every South Carolina town has that row of improbable houses that belie the poverty that permeated the state in the early 20th century. The row of fine houses from long ago and far away tell the story of some group of residents who once had money to spare.

In Seneca, one such row is West South First Street, or “Silk Stocking Hill” as it was once known. One of these beautiful homes has been preserved and is open to the public, giving a glimpse into the lives of the well heeled of the Jazz Age.

The Lunney House Museum has been lovingly restored by John Martin, who has volunteered his time and expertise to recreating the 1909 Queen Anne-style bungalow designed by architect Charles Christian Hook.

The house includes many touches that speak to the arts and crafts-style homes of the era, a 6-foot flat panel wainscoting with burlap inserts topped with a 5-inch plate rail. The English tile fireplace is framed in oak.

Its distinctive architecture extends to include a two-story carriage house and a “two-seater” outhouse. This museum includes a collection of Victorian furniture, much of it from the original owners.

The house was built by Dr. William J. Lunney and his wife, Lilian Mason Lunney, in 1909. The couple had been married for 20 years by the time the house was built and had lost their only child to an illness at age 4. Martin will tell you the Lunney marriage was never the same after the death of Victor Mason Lunney in 1894. It was 15 years later that the Lunneys moved into their home on First Street among the well-to-do and well connected in Seneca. Silk Stocking Hill was the center of Seneca society. The family entertained and threw lavish parties along with other residents of the street.

Dr. Lunney died in 1929, just weeks after the stock market crash, but Mrs. Lunney lived another 40 years and was famed for her weekly salons at the home.

After Mrs. Lunney died, her relatives donated the home to Oconee County, which operated it as a museum for 40 years. The county gave the home to the city of Seneca in 2009 and Martin began his restoration. The museum reopened in 2010.

This house museum also contains a collection of items from Oconee County’s history. The house is in the National Register of Historic Places.

Related Content

Explore Honea Path's History
Honea Path, a town that straddles Anderson and Abbeville counties, is “the little town with a big heart.” Memorials to war casualties and mill workers who died in a labor strike are placed in the city and show the town’s respect for its history.
Discovering the Upstate’s Native American heritage
If trees could talk, they’d have a million stories to tell -- stories of war and peace, life and death, seasons changing. In South Carolina’s Up​s​tate, one type of tree in particular, with a very curious bend, has a tale of human ingenuity.
Find Treasures While Antiquing in Upstate South Carolina
Enjoy a sampling of small towns with top-notch places to stay and eat, and plenty of antique “shopportunities" in Upstate South Carolina.

Featured Products

Lunney House Museum
Mountains

Seneca

Mountains

Mountains

The
Mountains Region

Learn More
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this California style bungalow was built in 1909 by Dr. & Mrs. W.J. Lunney and occupied continuously by the Lunney fam ...

Featured products and attractions in "Step Elegantly Back in Time at the Lunney House Museum"

Nearby Attractions

  • {{item.name}}

You might also like:

Issaqueena Falls/Stumphouse Tunnel
Mountains

Walhalla

Mountains

Mountains

The
Mountains Region

Learn More
A short easy walking trail leads from Stumphouse Mountain Park to Issaqueena Falls, a beautiful 200-ft. cascade. Legend has it that the Indian maiden, Issaqueena, rode to ...
Boone Hall Plantation
Coast

Mount Pleasant

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
Boone Hall is one of America's oldest working, living plantations, established in 1681 by Major John Boone. The present plantation manor house dates to 1935. The famous a ...
Kings Mountain National Military Park
Mountains

Blacksburg

Mountains

Mountains

The
Mountains Region

Learn More
On Oct. 7, 1780, a group of Patriot militia from what is now Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia defeated British Major Patrick Ferguson and h ...
Lunney House Museum
Mountains

Seneca

Mountains

Mountains

The
Mountains Region

Learn More
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this California style bungalow was built in 1909 by Dr. & Mrs. W.J. Lunney and occupied continuously by the Lunney fam ...
Old Town Hall Museum
Coast

Andrews

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
Housed in the original Town Hall, the museum (c. 1900) depicts a turn-of-the-century Andrews home. Items in the museum are circa 1909, the year Andrews was founded. ...
Cheraw Lyceum
Midlands

Cheraw

Midlands

Midlands

The
Midlands Region

Learn More
The Lyceum (c. 1820) began as a chancery court, became the Lyceum Meeting Room and private library, served as Cheraw's first telegraph office, and was both the Confedera ...