I have spent the past six days in the gawwwgeous South, specifically - Charleston, South Carolina. I went to college in Savannah, Georgia for nearly three years, but hadn't been back to that part of the country since I graduated. Luckily, my childhood friend decided to get married and it gave me a reason to take a trip!
Something I had never explored whilst living that way was all of the old plantations, so my mother and I decided to check them out. We went to Charles Towne Landing, which was actually the first successful settlement in Carolina. They had beautiful magnolia trees and lots of greenery here.
Most plantation homes were actually not extremely lavish compared to the owners' homes in the city. Going to the plantation was considered "camping" in those days!
A majority of the original homes perished during the Civil War, however, I ended up going to one that did not - which was probably the most amazing thing I have seen in a very long time.
We started at Boone Hall (also known as the summer house in "The Notebook"). We were the first people to arrive here in the morning, so we enjoyed a beautiful drive into the plantation, which was lined with hundreds of gargantuan oak trees, perfectly spaced apart. As we pulled in, the slave quarters were on the left, and the main house was straight ahead. The current house is the third house on the property. The other two were burned to the ground - one accidentally and the other deliberately. The current owner actually still lives in part of the property, so the tour was limited to the library, dining, and enclosed breezeway.
Next up was Magnolia Gardens. Magnolia was started by the prominent Drayton family, and was in the family until 1974! Eleanor Roosevelt and Orson Wells had once visited the property - and they say the Charleston dance was invented at Magnolia. The house that is here now is a cabin that was moved from elsewhere, and then an addition was added to it, which is obvious because of the different architectural styles and finishes. I forget which Drayton it was, but his bride moved from Philadelphia to be with him and she wasn't happy on the grounds, so be ended up planting all of the amazing gardens around the property to keep her happy. In the two hours we were here, we saw a ton of wildlife: peacocks, alligators, marsh rabbits, blue herons, egrets, squirrels, and a plethora of big juicy mosquitoes. On our way out, we stopped at the Audubon Swamp Garden on the property, and saw more birds, but it started pouring down rain on us so we had to jet.
The final plantation we visited, Drayton Hall, was my absolute favorite, as it is the ONLY unrestored building this old in the country. It was built in 1738 (to put this into perspective, George Washington was SIX at the time). The beauty behind preservation over restoration, is that you connect more with it - there's something really awesome about seeing original graffiti - or the wall with the original markings where the Drayton family measured their children for over two centuries! The house itself was unlike anything in the country at the time. It's a Georgian Palladian style, and there is no defined front or back, even though there are an upper and lower portico on one side. Guests would arrive via the road from one side but also by boat from the other (it's located several hundred feet from the water), so both sides provided a beautiful entry. Perhaps the most interesting fact about this property is that it has survived seven generations, 22 hurricanes, 2 earthquakes, and both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. They say Drayton Hall may have been spared because they put out yellow flags to indicate disease, which would have deterred any troops from getting close enough to burn it to the ground. The only known still-intact plaster ceiling is located here at Drayton Hall - it was quite amazing; the ceiling was carved in place and has survived this long! There is actually a no-fly zone above the property, as they worry the vibrations will knock the ceiling out. Another interesting fact? The house was lived in by a woman until 1974 - yet she never modernized the home with electricity. However, she decided she DID want a refrigerator, so she ran a VERY long extension cord from another building in order to have one.
Well, I will stop boring you with words. Enjoy the pretty pictures! :)