After our visit to Fort Sumter, we headed out of town to visit Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, just outside of Charleston on the Ashley River. I had visited before, but it was winter when I was there, and I wanted to see the summer experience. Well, I got a summer experience – just not the one I bargained for! At lunch (we went to Firehouse Subs), it started to rain, and by the time we got to the plantation it was pouring! Raining hard enough for us Northwesterners to consider not going. But I brought my umbrella and we figured we wouldn’t melt. And unlike northwest rain, this was warm – it was still in the 80s! Plus, our tickets were already paid for! So we went anyway. We sloshed through the puddles in our Chaco sandals and made the best of it.
The rain had washed over all the pathways and made little rivers of water down the paths, and Jon was worried that might mean the alligators would be all over the trails. It was comical how freaked out he was! We only could tolerate about a half hour in the dumping rain, but we went and saw the plantation house, the trails, the area where the rice paddies were, the formal gardens and the hedge maze. We opted not to go into the hedge maze. The oldest gardens at Magnolia Plantation were established in 1680 – and have been continuously tended since the time. After the plantation hit hard times after the Civil War, the gardens were opened to the public in the 1870s. They are really quite beautiful, although it is difficult to enjoy it in the pouring rain… And, we never did see any alligators!
The house at Magnolia Plantation is actually the third house on the site. The first house was destroyed by fire at some point, and the second one was destroyed in a fire in 1865 – likely burned by Union troops coming through. The house that is there now was floated down the Ashley River from Summerville, South Carolina on a barge! The center portion of the home was built before the Revolutionary War, with the rest of the home added on later.
The plantation also has several slave cabins that were built in the 1850s and one that was built approximately 1900. These cabins were very simple, with a hearth fireplace and not much else. Interestingly, these cabins were inhabited from the 1850s all the way up to 1990, by a groundskeeper who worked on the property. The slave cabins aren’t open unless you go on a specific tour, but it was neat to see the outside of them all the same.
As luck would have it, on our way out of Magnolia Plantation, the rain stopped and the sun started to come back out. We began the drive down to Savannah and on the way stopped for some Peach Cider! They also had tastings of Cherry, Blackberry and Muscadine cider – they were good, but the Peach was definitely the best. We had some fun looking around the shop, and Jon loved the spicy pickled garlic that they had. He bought a jar to bring home.
Back on the road, we stopped at the Frampton House Plantation in Yemessee, South Carolina. It is a Visitor’s Center for the Low Country, with a Museum and Gift shop, although the Museum part is a bit questionable. They kind of cover up the historic features of the home with the gift shop stuff. The house was built in 1868 after Sherman burned the original home in 1865. I learned that with a search on the internet though, as there was no docent to tell us anything about the house, or the area, so it ended up being a very quick visit. After wandering around wondering if someone would come tell us about the place, we left…. We got back on the road and headed the rest of the way to Savannah, to our home for the next two nights – The Marshall House!