Plantations around Charleston, South Carolina are living breathing records of the past. Avenues of live oak draped in Spanish moss guide you down properties maintained before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Plantations are iconic symbols of the south that speak of America’s past. Four popular plantations to visit around Charleston include: Drayton Hall, Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, Middleton Place, and Boone Hall Plantation and Gardens.
Drayton Hall – photo by BlackburnPhoto (CC BY 2.0)
Drayton Hall, built in 1738, is the oldest standing plantation available to public use. This is made more impossible by the fact that it has survived wars, an earthquake, and a few hurricanes. The plantation is alive with tourists trying to take in meaning from its ancient gardens and Georgian-Palladian architecture. This relic of antebellum past is a must see on your tour of plantations.
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
Magnolia Plantation House – photo by Daniel Mayer (CC BY-SA 3.0)
This plantation is a vestige of the Drayton family, built in 1676, is still owned by them over these past 300 years. Their renowned gardens, some of the oldest in American history, have been open to the world since the 1870′s and taken on the character of their owners. Inside the house, you will find decorative artifacts and heirlooms from past Drayton’s that showcase life and culture throughout this plantation’s long storied past. It’s also around the corner from Drayton Hall.
The Middleton Plantation emphasizes the importance of the Middleton’s on American history, its landscaped gardens, and everyday life of slaves and plantation life. The 65 acres of gardens reflect 17th-century design revolving around symmetry, ponds, and terraces. The Middleton’s have served in the First Continental Congress, signed the Declaration of Independence, and contrarily, the Ordinance of Secession. A tour would not be complete without seeing the gentlemen’s guest wing and the plantation stableyards that show the stark contrast of living between two different classes. Everyday life is shown from slavery days up until the early part of the twentieth century.
Boone Hall Plantation and Gardens
Boone Hall Plantation – photo by Rennett Stowe (CC BY 2.0)
Spanish moss hang down in curls over two parallel rows of live oak on the Avenue of Oaks. There is an interactive museum of early slave life shown through nine original slave cabins in an exhibit called Black History in America. Also, this plantation is one of the oldest working plantations in America. Instead of cotton and pecans, today’s Boone Hall is known for fruits and vegetables like strawberries or tomatoes. This plantation shows the everyday hard living of plantation life through narratives, relics, and antiques of revolution times.
About the Author
This article was provided by Mandy Sozak, a contributing blogger for the Governor’s House, a historic Charleston Bed & Breakfast