The Highland Park Hotel, Aiken's first grand tourist hotel, stood atop this plateau. It was built in 1869-70 and opened in 1870. A four-story Second Empire wing built in 1874 doubled its capacity to 350 guests. Open from November to June, it was at first favored by visitors coming to Aiken for their health and later by wealthy Northerners who wintered here and formed the "Aiken Winter Colony" in the 1890s.
Interior features included men's and ladies' billiard rooms and a bowling alley. The grounds included tennis and croquet courts, stables and riding trails, walking trails, and a pavilion. The hotel burned in 1898, and this site became a park. A new Highland Park Hotel, a Spanish Colonial Revival building, opened here in 1915. Originally 80 rooms, it was later enlarged to 125 rooms. That hotel was demolished in 1940.