Modifications to Springhill house
Over 250 years, the Lenox-Conynghams modified Springhill House to suit their changing lifestyles.
In the years around 1770, Colonel William Conyngham made significant changes to Springhill. Considering it to be no more than an ‘average Irish farmhouse,’ he added the two flanking wings on either side of the 17th-century building and made many other fashionable enhancements to the house.
The warm and comfortable Library began life as a dining room. The bookshelves were added in the early 19th century, giving the space a library atmosphere.
Although a more formal dining room was added in the 1820s, the family preferred the more intimate space of the Library for everyday use. Its function as the ‘small dining room’ continued right up to the 1950s.
The Dining Room
The Dining Room was the last of the main additions to the house. It was built by William Lenox-Conyngham and became the formal entertaining and dining space.
‘Wims’, as he was affectionally known by his family, took over the estate at the age of 24, giving up his successful career as a lawyer in Glasgow. His marriage to Charlotte Staples of Lissan House, daughter of an Irish member of parliament, added to the social prestige of the Lenox-Conynghams.
Springhill in the Second World War
Springhill played an important role during the Second World War as a US Army base. From 1942 to May 1944 Springhill was requisitioned by four battalions from the US Army.
Springhill found itself awash with drilling regiments and along with the sounds of diesel army trucks, the demesne resonated with the clatter of all things military. 112th Engineers, 519th Quartermaster Regiment, 544th Quartermaster Battalion and 3991st Quartermaster Truck Company were all stationed here at one point.
A sober reminder of American social order was evident in the sleeping arrangements of the troops. The United States Military remained segregated and while the plantation house was used by officers and predominantly white units, the Nissen huts of Tower Hill Camp at the opposite end of The Beech Walk were home to the black soldiers of the Quartermaster units.
Mina Lowry Lenox Conyngham was the lady of the house at Springhill at the time. She once said of these Nissen huts: ‘Ugly Nissen huts sprang up on Tower Hill…the laundry [Yard] became the Sergeants Mess and the Harness Room [became] the Orderly Room. Bugle sounds filled the air and drilling took place in the courtyard.'