Thursday, July 7, 2011
Charleston Harbor Tour & Boone Hall Plantation
Tuesday was the last day of our long weekend and we decided it would be nice to tour the Charleston Harbor. The tour lasted 90 minutes and gave a nice little history about all the things we passed. We learned about the new cruise ship terminal they're building and that Charleston is one of the largest ports in the US (which we knew already because Bosch has two plants in SC for that reason). We got to see some of the coveted houses that were built by plantation owners who wished to escape the hot in the summer.
The main attraction of the harbor tour was going by Fort Sumter. It was the site of the beginning of the Civil War, when South Carolina was the first state to succeed from the union. We were told that when they did that, they never expected that it would lead all of the other states to follow suit and lead to bloody conflict. It is assumed that the first shots of the Civil War were shot from Fort Sumter, but they were actually fired from nearby Fort Jackson. Fort Sumter changed hands several times during the Civil War.
After our harbor tour, we headed outside the city to Boone Hall Plantation, which was the inspiration for the house used in Gone with the Wind. Its distinctive feature is the double row of live oaks that lead up to the house. It's very authentic because the drive is still unpaved and very bumpy from the roots from trees on either side. The first trees were planted in 1743.
Since we had to schedule our house tour, we had time to first explore the row of slave houses. Each house had artifacts from different aspects of slave life. It's not enough to see how small they are, but to learn that more than one family lived in each one. My joke was that for slaves, they had really nice flat screen TVs, since there was at least one in each slave house ;)
When it was time for the house tour, we were told that since the plantation house is a personal residence as well as a historical site, that we wouldn't be allowed to take pictures inside the house. That was a bummer. The guide was very knowledgeable about the history of the plantation and told us the current house was built in the early 1930s. It's still a working plantation today. We learned that the original owners grew indigo, cotton, and produced bricks. All of the bricks used in building Fort Sumter were made on this plantation. The second owners, who were German brothers, were not hurt by slavery being abolished because they'd started growing pecan trees and they then began selling them to Europe as a delicacy. At that point they were the largest pecan growers in the entire world. They sold the property in the 1930s to a Canadian politician who tore down the house and built the current one. Plantation houses were not like the one that currently stands there because plantation owners had several houses and it was all about functionality at the plantation. The current owners reside in North Carolina most of the year and bought it in 1955.