From 1741 through the Civil War, four generations of the Middleton family successively owned Middleton Place. In 1678, Edward Middleton emigrated from England to Barbados and from there to South Carolina, eight years after the founding of Charleston. However, it was not until his son, Henry, married that the family moved into Middleton Place.
Henry Middleton, an influential political leader, was Speaker of the Commons, Commissioner for Indian Affairs, and a member of the Governor's Council until he resigned his seat in 1770 to become a leader of the opposition to British policy. Henry was chosen to represent South Carolina in the First Continental Congress and on October 22, 1774, was elected its President.
Several more generations of Middletons would live on this plantation until 1865 when a detachment of the 56th New York regiment occupied Middleton Place. On February 22, 1865, the main house and flanker buildings were ransacked and burned. The next decades were a struggle for the family to rebuild the plantation little by little.
In 1972, Middleton Place was designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service, as Middleton Place was the birthplace of Arthur Middleton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Then in February 1975, after the establishment of the not-for-profit Middleton Place Foundation, the Middleton Place House was opened to the public.
Today, the House Museum, built by Henry Middleton in 1755 as a gentlemen's guest quarters, is the only surviving portion of the three-building residential complex that once stood overlooking the Ashley River. The House contains Middleton family furniture, paintings, books and documents dating from the 1740s through the 1880s.
The garden, 65 acres of lanscaped terraces, shadowy allees, ornamental ponds and garden rooms laid out with precise symmetry and balance made Middleton Place the most unique and grand garden of its time. The Gardens of Middleton Place were opened to the public in the late 1920s. In 1941, Middleton Place received the Garden Club of America's Bulkley Award, and was named "the most interesting and important garden in the United States."
I highly recommend visiting Middleton Place Plantation. Walking through the gardens and touring the house gave me sense of the pride this family took in their estate and the love they had for South Carolina.