“Tucked away among live oaks”
Tucked away among live oaks and magnolias in the Santee Delta region, Hampton Plantation State Historic Site is home to the remote, final remnants of a colonial-era rice plantation. The plantation’s Georgian-style mansion and well-kept grounds serve as an interpretive site for the system of slavery that helped build such plantations in South Carolina into the greatest generators of wealth in early American history. The property also tells the story of the freed people who made their homes in the Santee Delta region for generations after emancipation. Visitors can explore the mansion, wander the plantation grounds or look out upon Wambaw Creek at the remains of rice fields that once stretched as far as the eye could see. Hampton inspired the works of a South Carolina poet laureate, Archibald Rutledge, who lived here and gave it to the people of South Carolina as a legacy. The site is a National Historic Landmark.
I’m not going to lie, but this place was a little creepy.
So there we were, heading down from Wilmington to Charleston and we decide to stop off at our first plantation since we landed in the South. It’s just a little down the road, no big deal, we think—but then we drive for what seems like miles down small roads, then smaller roads, until we arrive in this huge clearing.
We get out of the car, walk past all of the signs warning of the numerous dangerous animals and insects lurking about, and hike up the short path to the plantation. And there it is, a beautiful white home that looks like it could be the set of a horror movie. There were chairs and candelabras strewn about as if someone was about to perform a seance—and this was the middle of the day.
But despite the haunted feeling surrounding the place, we met some nice folks (including a very friendly Park Ranger) and strolled around the property comfortably before heading back on the road. It’s a little off the beaten path, but definitely worth a visit if you’re looking to get your plantation fix in. And best of all, it’s totally free to just walk around.
It is not open to the public from January through March. I found out the hard way. Call ahead for hours. It's state owned.
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Hampton Plantation State Park
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