Matthew Richard Singleton (1817-1854) completed Kensington Mansion in 1854. The house stands on what was known as Headquarters Plantation on the Wateree River in Richland County, directly across the river from the Singleton family seat in Sumter County.
Charleston architects Edward C. Jones and Francis D. Lee designed Kensington Mansion. It has 29 rooms and 12,000 square feet of floor space. The raised basement contains a massive cistern that held 10,000 gallons of water for household use. The original kitchen building stands beside the main house. Jacob Stroyer (1848-1909), who was enslaved on the plantation, documented antebellum life here in his memoir My Life in the South, first published in 1879.
Robert Pickett Hamer (1863-1911) purchased Kensington Plantation in 1910. His son, Robert Cochrane Hamer, and his family lived here until 1941 when the U. S. government purchased the property. After World War II, the government sold the land and it eventually became a dairy farm.
During the middle part of the twentieth century, the house fell into disrepair. It was unoccupied for many years and was finally used as a storage building for grain and farm supplies.
International Paper, formerly Union Camp, acquired the Kensington Mansion in 1981 and restored the house to its former glory. The Scarborough-Hamer Foundation furnished the mansion in 1996 with antiques from the Scarborough, Hamer and related families.