Less Traveled 2010

Tracy Pou



Highlight from History -- Hampton Plantation State Historic Site in McClellanville

Posted 6/1/2010 5:02:00 PM
Deep in the woods of rural Charleston County stands an historic site that, for some, serves as an awe-inspiring symbol of colonial wealth and for others a sobering reminder of the human toil and sacrifice upon which it was built. The Hampton Plantation State Historic Site covers 274 acres in McClellanville -- a small town about 35 miles outside of Charleston.

A winding dirt road leads visitors to the sprawling site which includes a nature trail, live oak trees and a number of well-kept historic buildings. The plantation's Georgia-style mansion, built between 1730 and 1750, was once occupied by several wealthy families including the Rutledges, Horrys and Pinckneys. Guided tours of the mansion include a look at the architecture of the building as well as a glimpse into the lives of the people who once lived there.

After taking a tour of the home, I spent most of my time on the grounds of the site reflecting on the lives of enslaved men and women who built and worked the rice plantation. The Kitchen House, built in the late 1800s, is one of the few remaining structures that provide some insight into slave life on the plantation. Not far from the Kitchen House is a pathway that leads to Wambaw Creek. While my battle with the insects didn't allow me to spend a lot of time there, I did manage to get a glimpse of Hampton Island -- a former 350-acre rice island located between Wambaw Creek and the South Santee River where hand-dug rice canals are still visible. As I looked out over Wambaw Creek, I was overcome with a dichotomy of thought around the natural beauty of the place and the juxtaposition of that beauty against the backdrop of slavery.

The Hampton Plantation Historic Site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The grounds of the plantation are open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mansion tours are held March through October, Tuesday-Sunday at noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. To get more information on the Hampton Plantation State Historic Site, see www.southcarolinaparks.com/park-finder/state-park/1142.aspx .