Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Boone Hall Plantation here in Mount Pleasant, SC was founded in 1681 making it one of the oldest continuously operated plantations in America.  It requires the better part of a day to take in all that is 
here to see.  At first we were a little disappointed that this mansion is not the original house, but once we learned the long history we understood.  This house was begun in 1935 when one of the more recent owners bought the plantation.  There were three previous homes that were replaced due to causes other than the Civil War.  The main house is still used as a private residence, but is open to guided tours during the day.  Interior photographs are not permitted, but it is beautiful.
The flower garden in front is continually being changed.
The brick wall is made from bricks that were produced in the brick works at Boone Plantation.  Bricks also became a cash crop for the farm and more than 1,000,000 of the bricks were used in building Fort Sumter.  All the bricks used in plantation buildings were made by slaves.
Our tour assembled on the front porch where our docent/guide explained the blue color of the ceiling as "haint blue" which derives from a Gullah legend that the blue color would keep evil spirits ("haints") and demons from the home.

The nearly one mile long drive from the highway to the main house is lined with live oaks originally planted in 1743 by the son of Major John Boone.  It took nearly 200 years for the branches to grow over the road to form this lovely arch.
On our way out I took this photo of the live oak sentinels. 

The main crops from the plantation were originally indigo, cotton, rice, pecans as well as bricks.  At one point there were 15,000 pecan trees on the grounds, but hurricanes have reduced that number to about 400. 
 The wharf
All crops leaving and coming to Boone Hall were transported on a tidal stream to and from Charleston and were processed through the dock house.  This photo shows a recently re-created dock house to replace the one Hurricane Andrew removed in1989. Because it was a tidal stream shipments had to be timed to take advantage of high tide and it usually took six to seven hours to travel to Charleston.

Today produce from the farm is sold off premises in a new building which houses the farm market and a restaurant.   We went there for lunch:  grilled crab sandwich with pimento cheese and a slice of friend green tomato on multi-grain bread, sweet potato fries dusted with cinnamon,  iced tea and a slice of homemade layered coconut cake with a custard filling.  D-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s. 

As beautiful as the plantation is it is also a place that forces one to reflect on the sad history of slavery in the United States.  On the grounds are nine of the original 27 slave quarters made from brick.  But, not all slaves lived in brick structures.  Those slaves who worked the fields lived in wooden one room "homes" without windows, doors or floors.

Each of the nine slave quarters provides historical information about slave life on the plantation and in the south.
The wall of this slave house was truly sad.  Photographs of slaves were displayed along with their comments about their remembrances of life on the plantation.  
This chart is a record of slave ships that landed in Charleston from 1711 to 1858 and shows port of departure, number of slaves on board at time of sailing and number of slaves on board at time of landing.
Of the 173,705 slaves who boarded ships during that time only 147,131 survived -- which means the loss of 26,574 lives.  Keep in mind that this is just at one port of the southeast U.S. coast where slave ships landed.
At the last slave building Jackie Mikel gave a one woman half hour performance about Gullah/Geechee life at Boone Plantation.  It was fascinating and thought provoking.  She was not only extremely talented, but very charming.  Most guests feel this is the highlight of their visit to the plantation and we would agree. 

We are no longer travelling in a motorhome.  Our vehicle is a Toyota Tundra pickup truck to which we added a cap over the cargo bed and a bed slide to make it easy to access cargo.  Being on vacation for four months requires a fair amount of stuff as you can see from these two photos.
Cargo tray slides out and locks in position for access to our stuff
Back seats are latched in the up position for even more storage.

Stay tuned

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