An April 2004 trip
to Charleston by Mary Dickinson
Quote: Plantation life, fine living in Charleston, and the institution of slavery are all part of the history of the area. Those old buildings help us to undestand what the antebellum South was all about.
We were cheerfully greeted in the entry hall of this 1880s townhouse and led past the formal dining room in the former front parlor, through the dark but elaborately decorated bar in the center of the house and out to the beautiful sun parlor in the rear of the house. All the tables were set with white cotton table clothes, white napkins, silver ware and sparkling crystal water glasses. There was an elegant formal fireplace in the room. Four sets of arched French doors allowed a view of a brick patio surrounded by tropical vegetation where more tables were available.
Low Country shrimp salad, $8.95, Carolina crab cakes, $8.95 or Calabash seafood platter, $8.95 looked good but I decided to settle for Albertha's she-crab soup, an award-winning Charleston tradition, laced with sherry, $4.95 a bowl. Bob ordered the special of the day, Southern fried pork chops, mashed potatoes, gravy and collard greens, $7.95.
The soup was elegantly served in a bowl with a lip and was creamy and delicious with bits of crab meat. Bob was served a generous portion of batter dipped pork chops. The mashed potatoes were freshly made from real potatoes and the collard greens were delicately spiced. A thick delicious biscuit with butter was served before the meal. We broke our usual tradition of no dessert and shared a delicious piece of chocolate cake with fudge filling, $4.95.
Zoe, an old spinster schoolteacher, who once lived there and now haunts the place, was written up on the back of the menu and is featured in the Charleston Ghost Tour, but we didn't see her.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 15, 2004
72 Queen Street
Several tours are offered. We took the wagon ride tour around the grounds. People are allowed to pick their own fruits and vegetables in the orchards and fields. We went into a wooded area on a dirt road and saw an old building that had been used as the general store in the N&S. Other scenes in that movie were pointed out. The driver explained the term low country. It means places where swamps are present in the wooded areas. That area was definitely low country. Wampancheone Creek, a tributary of the Cooper River, runs through the property. Before the Civil War, cotton and rice were floated by barge down that tidal waterway to Charleston.
Bricks were produced at Boone Hall Plantation before the Civil War and many famous buildings in Charleston were made from them. The slave quarters at Boone Hall were also built from their own brick. They were used in several scenes in N&S and Queen. A Gullah lady was making a sweet grass basket near the slave quarters. She had several for sale. I bought one with a handle that was made to look like an antique serving dish. She said all the materials used in her baskets were grown right there on the plantation.
The former cotton gin house is now used as a restaurant. We decided to have lunch there. They offer low country cooking, good but a little pricey. Few scenes were shot in the main house. Many were filmed on the porch in front. It was exciting to sit there waiting for our tour to go through. > Gone With The Wind, The North and the South and Queen were all filmed at the same location, Boone Hall Plantation in Mt. Pleasant, SC. Although opened for tours, it is still a 738-acre working farm with orchards and crops. Lofty limbs of live oak trees covered with Spanish moss form a canopy over the long driveway approaching the main house as seen in Twelve Oaks in GWTW and Mt Royal in the N&S. The present mansion, built in 1946, is nothing like the one that was there before the Civil War. The former one was not much better than the slave quarters that are still in place next to the driveway. The plantation dates back to 1681.
The former cotton gin house is now used as a restaurant. We decided to have lunch there. They offer low country cooking, good but a little pricey. Few scenes were shot in the main house. Many were filmed on the porch in front. It was exciting to sit there waiting for our tour to go through. The North and The South is one of my favorite movies. I could imagine Patrick Swayze gallantly riding up on a fine horse. Also offered is a tour of the antique rose garden on the side of the house. The North and the South is one of my favorite movies. I could imagine Patrick Swayze gallantly riding up on a fine horse. Also offered is a tour of the antique rose garden on the side of the house.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 10, 2004
Boone Hall Plantation
Highway 17 North
Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina 29465
+1 843 884 4371
Attraction | "The Nathaniel Russell House"
To validate our house tour passports or purchase a tour ticket, we had to walk through the garden to the back of the house to the gift shop. In 1808, when the house was built, it was a separate building with a kitchen on the first floor and slave quarters on the second floor, but has since been joined, by an addition, to the main house.
From the garden, we could see an oval wall on the south side of that brick house, with huge double hung windows enclosed in white iron balconies, that gave a taste of the grandeur inside. The balcony continued along the second story to the front of the house and over the Federal style double doors.
The entrance hall was probably used as an office by Nathaniel Russell, who was a prominent merchant,. Originally from Rhode Island, he wanted the luxury of Charleston and, and although a Yankee, he had no qualms about owning 18 slaves to keep the place in prime condition and accommodate the household. A second set of doors, with a rosette design in the windows, led to the hall with the famous free floating elliptical spiral staircase that went all the way to the third floor.
The oval dining room was off that hallway. Its shape was accented with a polished mahogany oval table placed in the center of the room on an Oriental carpet. The table was set in fine china, crystal and silver. The huge double hung windows were evenly spaced on the curved outside wall. The room was papered in a flat blue-green color and finished with a two-inch wide gold trim.
On the second floor, a fancy oval music room was located directly above the dining room. The four double hung windows on the outside wall had balconies. Faux windows on the inside wall gave the feeling of being in an oval garden house. An upstairs drawing room had double hung windows leading to a balcony on the street side. Robin's egg blue on the walls, with a Grecian design carving painted white on the mantel over the fireplace, was in the elegant Adams style from England, so popular at that time. We were then led to an upstairs bedroom furnished with a bolster bed (most of the furniture was made in Charleston) dressed in a green fabric with a Chinese design. The floors had to be covered and uncovered by the slaves with the changing of the seasons.
Nathaniel Russell House
51 Meeting St
Charleston, South Carolina 29401
+1 843 723 1623
Double wide, double hung windows in the sitting room pull up and become doors leading to the piazza on the first and second floors. Nothing has been done to improve the house since 1858 so the windows have missing paint. Wallpaper is falling off the walls. It’s a historian's dream but it gives the place a haunted appearance.
Gov. William Aiken, Jr. was the richest man in South Carolina before the Civil War. In the fashion of the time, he and his wife toured Europe and brought back crystal and brass chandeliers, sculptures and paintings that are still in place throughout the house. Looking up at the very high ceilings in the empty bedrooms we could see the place where mosquito nets had at one time hung over the beds. Mrs Rhett used the former ballroom for her bedroom and had used a mosquito net. The dining room was empty except for a huge highly polished dining table and a painting on the wall. The Aikens bought the house and expanded and redecorated in the 1830s to the 1850s.
The warming kitchen in the cellar hasn't been altered since the house slaves brought the prepared food from there, up the back stairs, to the dining room. In the outbuildings, the kitchens and laundry, with slave quarters on the second floor, haven't changed in over 150 years. The elaborate horse stables and carriage house still include two old carriages, probably the one used by the governor when he escorted the Confederate President Jefferson Davis around Charleston when he visited the city. Only the outside privy has been altered. A white porcelain-flushing toilet had been installed.
We entered the house from Elizabeth Street. That marble entry hall has two sets of stairs leading to the first floor. They curve around a third set going to the stone basement. We validated our house tour passport at the gift shop in the basement and were given earphones and a cassette player and then we were on our own. Docents were here and there throughout the house. One assured me ghosts have been detected. There's no doubt in my mind.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 14, 2004
48 Elizabeth St
Charleston, South Carolina 29403
+1 843 723 1159
Attraction | "Sweet Grass Baskets"
Sweet grass baskets are collected as works of art. If you stop to look at them, you can watch as a basket is being assembled. Sometimes pine needles are added to give a reddish brown design when placed next to the long wheat colored strands of sweet grass. The entire basket is sewed together with one-quarter inch strips from palm leaves. A basket takes three, four and even more days to produce.
I bought one that looks like a serving bowl. It has a lip around the top and a handle. Some are flat and can be used as serving trays. They are made in the old traditional shapes of their ancestors or in new shapes for modern usage.
A small basket, three inches wide with a handle, might sell for $20 or more. Large baskets with complicated design can command prices over a hundred dollars. The ladies are willing to bargain. I paid $65 for the one I bought.
Runaway slaves brought the art to the Seminole Indians in Florida and thy developed a variation using heavy colorful cord to sew the basket together. When we toured one of the reservations, an Indian woman was demonstrating making a basket that looked like a vase. She intended to add a lip, but we asked if she would finish it and sell it to us as is. She said yes and we agreed on a price of $60.
Lizzy's Sweetgrass Baskets
1711 N Highway 17
Charleston, South Carolina 29464