Monday, May 9, 2016

Historic Boone Hall Plantation

Hi folks!  I hope everyone had a nice Mother's Day yesterday; I know I sure did.  We are so blessed to still have both of our moms with us, and I'm so thankful to be a mom myself.  :)

We just got home Friday evening from four days spent in Charleston, South Carolina.  What an amazing city -- full of elegance, grace, mystique, hospitality, history, and good food.  If you've never been, I encourage you to put that on your list of places to see.

While we were there, we made a side trip to Mt. Pleasant, where we toured Boone Hall Plantation.  I believe I went there as a child with my parents and sister, but I really didn't remember it at all.  We spent the afternoon there, and it was a fascinating visit.

The house itself is at the end of this 3/4 mile drive called the Avenue of Oaks.  These oaks were planted in 1743 by Thomas Boone -- more about that later.

Now, I know this looks like an antebellum cotton plantation, but that's not exactly true.  This particular house was built in 1933, so some would say it's a fake or an imposter.  In the sense that it was not here before or during the Civil War, that is true.  But, the plantation (the land itself) and three previous plantation houses have existed here since 1681.

I'm repeating the information given to us by our excellent tour guide, but I've seen varying versions online.  Boone Hall plantation was originally a land grant given to Englishman Major John Boone in 1681.  The original land grant was 17,000 acres, and the plantation's land now consists of 738 acres.  If I remember correctly, our guide said the first house wasn't built on this spot, but at a location along the Ashley River.  It was a frame house and eventually burned down, but no one knows any of the details of the fire.  The second house was a frame house, and it was destroyed in a hurricane -- one of the hazards of living near the coast.  The third house was also built of wood, and it lasted for 150 years.  However, the family by then was tired of living in this isolated location, which was most easily reached by boat and was a six-hour boat ride -- one way.  As our guide said, the owner had a hard time convincing people to attend his parties.  :)  So the owners kept the plantation house, but chose to live in the city of Charleston, and the plantation house fell into disrepair.

Leonard Hayes, Georgetown South Carolina (photograph)

I found this picture from 1900 on Wikipedia, and I think it must have been the third house.  This third wooden house was purchased by Canadian, Thomas Stone in the early 1900's.  He had the house torn down and rebuilt in 1933 in the Colonial Revival style, as the home we see today.  The plantation itself was first owned by the Boone family, then the Horlbeck family.  Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Stone were the third owners, followed by a Russian prince, Dimitri Djordjadze; Dr. Henry Deas and his wife; and finally by Harris M. McRae and his wife, Nancy Thomas.  The McRae family opened the house to the public in 1957.   (source)

On the house tour, the public is only allowed to see the first floor, as the family still uses the house certain parts of the year, and the upper two floors are their private residence.  Also, no pictures were allowed inside.  It's a lovely home with a beautiful spiral staircase in the center of the foyer.  Our admission price also included a 40-minute motorized tour around the plantation in an open air coach (this was very interesting), garden tour, butterfly pavilion, slave street and history presentation, and black history in America exhibit.  We felt like we got a lot of bang for our buck at just $24 per adult.

A short history of the plantation:  I mentioned the land grant was given to Major John Boone in 1681.  His son Thomas Boone began planting the live oaks along the Avenue of Oaks in 1743, and he is the only family member buried under the oaks, as he requested to be.

The first crop grown at the plantation was indigo, used to make indigo dye.  It grew well in that region, and indigo at that time was in big demand in the colonies and in England.  The family later switched to growing cotton -- also in big demand.  After the Civil War, cotton was no longer grown here as a cash crop.  Cotton was a very labor-intensive crop, and it was no longer economically feasible to grow without slave labor.  The Horlbeck family established the Boone Hall Brickyard, which was in operation for many years.  Before the Civil War, the bricks were hand-made by the slaves, and after the Civil War, many of the slaves chose to stay on as Freed Men and Sharecroppers, to work at the brickyard for pay.  During its years of operation, Boone Hall Brickyard made most of the bricks for nearby Fort Sumter, as well as many of the historic buildings and churches in the city of Charleston.

This small amount of cotton is still grown every year as a nod to Boone Hall's history.

This building housed Boone Hall's cotton gin, which at one time not only processed the cotton for Boone Hall, but for several of the surrounding plantations.  It will soon be renovated and open to the public again.

Eight of the original slave cabins still exist here.  They were built with bricks from the plantation's brickyard.

Boone Hall has played its part in television and in film.  The Avenue of Oaks was used in Gone With the Wind, and the house and land were used in ABC's mini-series, North and South (as Mont Royal), and the daytime soap opera, Days of our Lives.  Boone Hall appeared in the movie The Notebook, and the movie Queen.

The gardens at Boone Hall Plantation were lovely and charming; I enjoyed them every bit as much as the gardens at Biltmore House.  I've given you lots of details, now I'll finish with pictures.  History fascinates me, and I think a place like this comes alive when you know a little more of its background.

Horse stables --

The rest of the garden pictures will be in a separate post -- Part 2.  Thanks so much for reading, and I hope I didn't throw too many facts at you.  :)  I hope you all have a great day and a wonderful week!



  1. Great photos and thanks for the history lesson. Boone isn't that far away, I'll have to make a day trip.

  2. Charleston is on my list of places to visit. What a very interesting plantation with so much history. Glad you had a good visit!

  3. I have such mixed feelings about plantation houses, both in America and in Jamaica, where I grew up. The thought of slavery frightens me, and I wonder how one can visit such plantations without thinking of it. Interesting that a Canadian built what is the present house. Hope you are doing well.

  4. Thank you for the tour of the outside of the house and the property. You and Hal have a wonderful time in visiting parts of your beautiful state. I'm glad that you had a happy Mother's Day, Denise. I'm thankful that my mom is still here, too.

  5. What a wonderful post, full of history. I've never been to the South, well I take that back, Columbus, Mississippi for a cousin's funeral. A short trip. It is most important to preserve our history and to understand it. I am glad that you took the time to share your trip. I look forward to seeing the gardens.

  6. An awe inspiring post for sure. I am going to show this to my husband and plan a trip there.. The oak lined drive looks like the plantation drive in Louisiana, which I would love to tour in person also, Oakland plantation.
    What grows on the arbors on each side of the drive? looks to be roses.
    Absolutely beautiful.
    looking forward to the second post for sure!
    Thank you for visiting and so happy you had a wonderful Mothers day!!

  7. Hi Denise, I would love to visit Charleston one day. I have heard only the nicest things about this beautiful city. Your post was wonderful, loved your photos and its interesting history. As you can see, we are namesakes. I like to visit other Denise's and say hello :) So nice to meet you.

  8. This is a wonderful post. I'm a fan of history, too, so the more you write, the more I'll read. We visited Charleston a couple of times about 20 years ago and loved the city. We toured Middleton Place, on the Ashley River, and found the stories of the family and the slaves and freedman most interesting.

  9. Great post! Have pictures of you and your sister standing at the gates to the plantation. You were about 8 years old and Lisa 5. You should post them. Love you, Mom



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