17.11.2011 - 17.11.2011 25 °C
Today was Plantation Day - one urban plantation and two rural plantations.
Took the car up to the Joseph Manigault house - often considered the finest Adams or Federal house in the USA - another urban plantation in uptown Charleston. The house is quite spare in decorative details but in true adams style it is perfectly proportioned. It looks quite large from the outside but doesn't seem very big on the inside. For example there is only one bedroom on the second floor - most of the houses I had been to had at least 2 bedrooms since it was quite fashionable to entertain (the tea type entertaining - not the other type!!!) in your bedroom and show off your bedroom drapes which was often quite the most expensive item in your house.
The Guide was extremely knowledgeable but she had this habit of going totally totally blank and then stuttering so it was quite a tortuous tour.
After this house I headed up to Boone Plantation which is famous for its Avenue of Oaks - a super straight gravelled road with evergreen oaks and spanish moss growing over the branches. As you drove up the drive you certainly felt like Scarlett O'Hara riding up to Ashley Wilkes' BBQ - it was quite possibly the inspiration for this scene but the owners weren't sure since scouts were sent all over the South and then the scenes were painted on during the production of the movie so there is no actual Wilkes Plantation. However several films have been filmed at this plantation including the mini series North and South (if you can remember back to the 1980's). Unfortunately the house is not the real thing - it was built in 1936 as a mock plantation house but nevertheless it has been carefully made to look like the real thing. The plantation has had an interesting history starting off with cotton, then as a brickworks which kept it going up to the civil war and finally a pecan nut tree farm which kept it going after the civil war when the nut was considered a luxury item.
I didn't realise that the pecan nut tree is the largest nut tree in existence and its quite large. The nuts continually drop all over you since they mature in late October - also did you know that Spanish Moss (Grandfather's Beard) is related to the pineapple - yes, I can't get away from pineapples - all the plantations have Spanish Moss growing all over the trees giving it rather an eerie look.
Next stop was Drayton Hall near the Charleston Airport - in fact there's quite a few plantations out that way - Drayton Hall is an example of a plantation house that never recovered after the civil war but it is remarkable for the fact that it still survives and is virtually in one piece thanks to the owner during the Civil War sticking up yellow flags all over the place signalling the deadly smallpox. Sherman's army kept marching past. There's absolutely no furniture in the house and no restoration has been carried out other than to stabilise the structure. It's a perfect palladian house complete with an English kitchen - an English kitchen is one in the basement instead of separate structure - basements were not generally used in Charleston since it often floods - even the carpark at the hotel warns of flooding - and secondly kitchens often burned down at least annually.
What is fascinating is that no records of the house exists before the civil war - this was true of a lot of Charleston homes - apparently the Charlestonians were paranoid about Sherman's army razing Charleston to the ground for its part in starting the war so they sent all their valuables and records up to Columbia the capital of South Carolina. However, instead Sherman burnt Coumbia down effectively destroying all their records.
Anway gotta go and start packing - Ana is arriving tomorrow so I may be a bit haphazard in my posts from now on..........
Tomorrow is Savannah - take care and see you soon.