MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (AP) _ The historic Snee Farm home of Charles Pinckney, a signer of the U.S. Constitution who served as governor, senator and congressman, has been bought by a preservation group.

The two-story frame farm house and the surrounding 25 acres in suburban Mount Pleasant had been slated for part of a residential development, but a citizens group known as Friends of Historic Snee Farm took title to the property over the weekend.

The group bought the property for $2 million, but must still raise $1 million to pay off a bank loan, said Charleston attorney Nancy Hawk, one of the organizers of the preservation effort.

The group plans to pay off the remaining debt and turn the site over to the National Park Service.

About 50 people, including state and federal officials, gathered under rainy skies outside the 18th century structure Saturday for the announcement.

''This is a wonderful time for the state of South Carolina because you're preserving a piece of our state that cannot be duplicated and cannot be replicated,'' Gov. Carroll Campbell said.

The farm house dates to 1754. Pinckey not only was a signer of the Constitution, but also served as a state lawmaker, governor, U.S. senator, congressman and American minister to Spain.

Pinckney claimed to be 26 at the time of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, which would have made him the youngest signer. However, he was really 29 at the time, and Jonathan Dayton of New Jersey, at 27, was actually the youngest signer.

Sen. Strom Thurmond told the group ''you're preserving here some of the most important history of South Carolina.'' He called Pinckney the ''second most important man'' at the constitutional convention after James Madison.

The Darby family, which owned the property, also gave a gift of $100,000 for the effort.

''Of course it's a beautiful piece of property and as you know I would have liked to have developed it. But since they made such a dedicated effort, we think we did the right thing,'' said Gordon Darby, one of the owners.

U.S. Sen. Ernest Hollings said the park service has agreed to restore the vacant house and operate it as an educational resource.

Jerry Rogers, the assistant director of cultural affairs for the National Parks Service, said it will cost about $500,000 a year to operate the Pinckney home.