Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Middleton Place ~ Historic Plantation Outside Of Charleston, South Carolina

Leaving the charming old historical town of Savannah, Georgia we drive north over the Eugene Talmadge Memorial Bridge.  This bridge, crossing over the Savannah River, was named after the Governor of Georgia (1933-37).

I loved having my camera to try to capture the beauty of this picturesque bridge with the sparkling blue skies in the background.  It was such a beautiful clear day and from the top of the bridge we could see way off into the distance.

We had a couple of extra days to spend sightseeing along the East coast.  For years we had heard about the old Southern plantations on the outskirts of Charleston, South Carolina, but had never taken the time to visit.  

According to our GPS directions, the first plantation was about 16 miles to the North of Charleston and a short two hour drive from Savannah,  as you can see in the map below.

Middleton Place Plantation
4300 Ashley River Road
Charleston, South Carolina

Middleton Place Plantation is a very old and well preserved sprawling rice plantation dating back to the 1730s.  The Plantation is located along the Ashley River which is about 17 miles to the north of Charleston, South Carolina.

There is so much to see and do on the grounds of this old plantation that you could easily spend the day walking around this beautiful property.  There is a 45-minute guided tour of the house, plus self-guided tours of the gardens and stable yard.  

As we drove in the gates and spotted the old plantation house we see off in the distance, it looked like scenes from an old English novel, such as Jane Eyre.  I just could not wait to get closer and see this old historical plantation.

The history of this plantation dates back to 1741 when Henry Middleton acquired this beautiful place through his marriage to Mary Williams who was a daughter of a wealthy landowner.  This plantation was her dowry.  Henry began cultivating a grand European style garden which is still thriving today.

Mary Williams's dowry included the house and lands that became known as Middleton Place and would be owned by four generations of Middletons from 1741 through the Civil War

The below photo shows the brochure given to us at time of admission.  If you look to the right of the photo you can see some of the landscaped gardens.  To get an idea of how large this property is, look  to the top left of the photo and you can barely see the house museum.

There was originally much more of the home than seen in the below photo.  We see what they call the South Flanker, which is a portion of the house originally built in 1755 as a gentlemen's guest quarters.  At that time there was also a North Flanker which included a library and conservatory.  The flankers along with a main house were burned by Union troops in February 1865,  just two months before the end of the Civil War.  

Repairs began to this portion of the home in 1869.  Fortunately, this South Flanker was strengthened enough in the repairs to survive Charleston's Great Earthquake in 1886, which completely took down the other buildings.  It is known to have been the most damaging earthquake to ever occur in the Southeast.  

The fallen bricks to the main house and fireplace are still there for all to see.

The tiered back-steps are all that remains of the main house.

Our tour of the House Museum began at the back door of the home.   It was a very interesting tour telling about and showing portraits of the men, women and children who made Middleton Place their home for over three centuries, including the slaves and freedmen who were part of their family too.  Unfortunately photos were not allowed inside the home.  

I would have loved to photograph the lovely items in the home all still belonging to members of the Middleton Family and representing four generations of the family.  There were beautiful portraits, fine Charleston and London-made silver, a pre-revolutionary breakfast table made by a celebrated Charleston cabinetmaker, beautiful Audubon paintings and much more.

The Zinnias planted in the planters all around the back of the house provided a wonderful 
playground for this beautiful butterfly ... Or, maybe this is lunchtime for him!

In the below photo we see the view from the back steps of the main home
overlooking the Ashley River.

The below photo shows the view from the front of the home.

Not too far away from the front entrance gate we see this amazingly old Oak tree.  
I would love to know the age of this majestic tree.

And, we see another huge Oak tree down beside the pond in the back of the home.

To the left of the large Oak tree by the pond we spot the Spring House that was built in 1740.  
It was a one-story brick building built into a hillside and used to store perishable goods.

In 1850, a second story was added to the building and was used as a slave chapel.

As we were walking around after our tour of the main home,  we found the Spring House or 
Plantation Chapel's door was open.  We walked inside and saw this charming little chapel.

Looking to the left of the little chapel across the pond we see this pretty view.

Middleton Place is a National Historic Landmark and home to America's Oldest Landscaped Gardens.  Some call these 65 acres the most important and most interesting garden in America.

In the above photo you can just get a glimpse of what is called Eliza's House, 
which was previously occupied by former Middleton Place slaves.

As we walked around the amazing gardens, these beautiful 
Spanish Moss covered Oak trees along the banks of the Ashley River caught my eye.

The Gardens were created in 1741 and reflect the grand classic style with principles similar
 to the garden designs at the Palace of Versailles in France.

The gardens of Middleton Place have been planned so that there
 is something blooming during all seasons.

As we walked around on the self-guided tour of the grounds we came upon the Middleton Place Slave Cemetery.  There were only a few grave stones in this little Cemetery, but it was so touching to see them.

Union soldiers burned Middleton Place on February 22, 1865.  From what I can find out about the Middleton Place slaves, they were very much a part of the family.  After the Civil War, many disappointed ex-slaves returned to the familiarity of their old home in exchange for housing and wages.  

Freed slaves, Ned and Chloe had a part in helping the Middletons reorganize their lives in the difficult post-war years.  Ned was frequently mentioned in family correspondence and seems to have been in charge of the plantation when the Middletons were away.  

Ned and Chloe, and all the other workers were key factors in the survival of Middleton Place.  In one family letter, Ned and Chloe were mentioned for their diligence and devotion in helping the Middletons preserve the "dear old place" that was home to them all.

I am so impressed that the Middleton family was so loyal to this home that it remained in the family for 320 years through four generations.  In the early 1980s, this National Landmark was given to Middleton Place Foundation.  The decision was made by family in order to preserve an important place in American history.

Thank you for stopping by for a visit and traveling with us to this beautiful old historical location.

Wishing you many blessings and a happy Thursday as we begin the very first day of Fall.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Sightseeing In Historic Savannah, Georgia

A couple of weeks ago we had the pleasure of visiting the charming old Southern town of Savannah, Georgia.  We began our visit sightseeing down the old historical River Street.  If you would like to see that post click on:

The city of Savannah is the first and oldest city in the State of Georgia.  Georgia was named after England's King George II and was the last of the 13th original colonies to be established.

In the below photo we see a statue honoring General James Oglethorpe.  He, along with 120 passengers on a ship called "Anne"  from England, landed on a high bluff along the Savannah River in February 1733.  

After many beginning hardships General Oglethorpe set out to plan and establish the city of Savannah.  He is credited with planning the first American city.  He planned for wide open streets intertwined with shady public squares or parks that served as town meeting places.  Twenty-one (21) of the original 24 parks remain in the city of Savannah to this day.

This bronze statue erected in 1910 is located in Chippewa Square, one of the 21 squares or parks planned by Mr. Oglethorpe.

General James Oglethorpe

This statue of James Oglethorpe seen in the above photo was designed by sculptor Daniel Chester French who also created Lincoln's statue in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Chippewa Square is located in the center of the 21 squares in Savannah.
It is one of the best known squares in the city...

If you happened to see the movie Forrest Gump you would have seen, in the opening scene of the movie, Forrest sitting on a bench in Chippewa Square as he waited for a bus.  The original bench he was sitting on is no longer in its original position in the square, but is located now in the Savannah History Museum.

There are several benches, like the bench seen in the photo below, located all around the park as a reminder to the original bench seen in the Forrest Gump movie.

The city has a provided a very convenient "Hop on - hop off" Trolly Tour Service.
This is a very nice way to see so many of the popular sights all around the city.

As we were driving along on the Trolly, I spotted this very old looking building seen in the below photos.  If you look closely, you can see toward the top of the building the letters constructed into the building inscribed Savannah Cotton Exchange.  This building was built in 1872 when Savannah was a leading producer of cotton.  They tell us that many of the world's cotton prices were set on the steps of this old Savannah Cotton Exchange.

You may know this,  but just in case I will tell you what I found out about the statue located in front of the Cotton Exchange building.  During construction of this old historical building they added a fountain in front and a "griffin" which is a legendary creature with the body, tail and back legs of a lion.  Griffins are known for guarding treasure and priceless possessions i.e. The Cotton Exchange.

We took a quick walk around at the Savannah Visitor's Center.  Seen in the below photo I spotted this large picture on the wall.  Look at all of that cotton!!  ...  There are what looks like hundreds of bales, giving us an idea of the major amount of cotton grown in the Savannah area.  Can you imagine picking all that cotton ... Amazing!

We were so fortunate the Trolly took us past this Victorian Gothic Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, dating back to 1799.  The Trolly tour guide told us to be sure not to miss this beautiful old church.

We were told there was a devastating fire back in the early 1900s and the church we see in these photos is the result of the church being rebuilt and then renovated again in 1998-2000.  As you will see in the below photos this is an amazingly beautiful church and we were so glad we visited.

Seen in the below photo is the view of this beautiful church as we walked into the front door.

And, in the below photo this is a view of the church looking from the front alter up 
to the back of the church where we see the amazing old organ. 

And the below photo is a closer-up photo of the front alter.

The below photo shows a side-alter off to the left of the main alter.

The fresh flowers on the alter were so simple and beautiful.

And in the below photo we see another side-alter off to the right of the main alter.

In the below photo we see The Stations of the Cross on the wall. These large three dimensional wooden carved Stations of the Cross were created in Munich, Germany and installed in the church in 1900.

As you probably already know there is a total of fourteen Stations of the Cross carvings representing successive incidents during the last day in the life of Jesus, from condemnation by Pilate, to his crucifixion and burial. It is very touching to walk around and reflect on each one of these carvings.

I loved the carved wooden details of each one of these Stations of the Cross.

The stained-glass windows in this beautiful church are from Austria.

The murals on the walls and ceiling were beautiful. In the photo below this mural depicts Jesus during the Sermon on the Mount, giving the Beatitudes to his followers. I have always loved the message in The Beatitudes.

This statue of St. Theresa located in the back of the church caught my eye.

Below we see a photo of the very beautiful Baptismal Font newly 
installed during the renovation of the church in 2000.

It was very convenient to "hop on and hop off" of the Trolly Tour Bus ....
The next stop we were told not to miss was Forsyth Park.

In the below photo we see Forsyth Fountain located in a 30-acre park at the southern edge of the Historic District in Savannah.  This lovely two-tiered cast-iron fountain was built in 1858 and is located in the middle of this beautiful park.  This park was named in honor of Georgia Governor John Forsyth in 1851.

While visiting this park we were entertained with lovely music. We took a minute and spoke with this gentleman playing the trumpet in the below photo.  He shared with us that he originally came to this country from Puerto Rico. He also shared with us how much he enjoys entertaining the visitors to this picturesque park.


The next stop on our tour was the Andrew Low House.   This home was built in 1849 for Andrew Low who was a Scottish-born wealthy business man and the father-in-law of Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts of America.

Andrew Low was one of the key business men involved in the import/export of cotton in Savannah.  He was so successful he was able to hire a renowned architect to design and build this captivating house.  We were fortunate to be able to tour the inside of this old historical home. However, photos were not allowed inside.

If you would like to see photos of this beautiful old home you can click on the site below:

This beautiful old home seen in the below photo is now the Hamilton-Turner Inn.  

We did not go inside, but I did check out their website to get a glimpse of the inside:  

We next toured the Owens-Thomas House.

This elegant residence was built from 1816-1819 for a cotton merchant and banker in Savannah.  In 1830, planter, congressman, lawyer and mayor of Savannah, George Owens, purchased this home. 

The home remained in the Owens family until 1951 when a granddaughter bequeathed the property to the Telfair Museum of Art.

As we exited this lovely old historical home we see this English-inspired original mid-nineteenth century garden, which provides a glimpse of the genteel life in the early days in Savannah.  This garden is one of the few surviving original gardens created in 19th century Savannah and the only one open to the public.  

We also see an original carriage house beyond the garden, which contains one of the earliest intact slave quarters in the South.  This carriage house was not open to the public on the day we toured.

The next interesting home we spotted as we walked along through this 
beautiful area was Magnolia Hall.

I loved having my camera to try to capture some of the absolute 
beauty of this amazing Southern town. 

The vine covered brick steps leading to the entrance of the home were so pretty.

The architectural styles of the 18th and 19th century Victorian period, 
including this type of ornamental ironwork fencing seen in the below photo was so beautiful to see.

Magnolia Hall in Savannah is a three-story residence built in 1878 for the great grandson of Thomas Hayward Jr., a South Carolinian who signed the Declaration of Independence. 
This to me was one of the most beautiful homes in the city.

We walked along the old historic streets just enjoying the lovely sights along the way.  The streets of Savannah are known for the large old Magnolia trees covered in blossoms and oak trees covered with Spanish moss.

Across the street we see this amazing wisteria vine draped across the front covered
 porch and gazebo on this lovely old home.
Can't you just imagine how beautiful this vine must be in the Springtime!

There is so much history in this old Southern town of Savannah.  We are all familiar with much of the history of the Civil War ...  One of my favorite historical stories during the Civil War happened when Union General William Sherman began his mid-December "March to the Sea" after burning the entire city of Atlanta and everything else in his path.

This is my favorite part:  Upon entering Savannah, Sherman was said to be so impressed by the beauty of the city that he could not bring himself to destroy it.  On December 22, 1864, he sent a famous telegram to President Abraham Lincoln, offering the city as a Christmas present.  

This is a true story because I found a copy of Sherman's original telegram to President Lincoln:

This telegram is a little hard to read.  It goes like this:

SAVANNAH, GA., December 22, 1864(Via Fort Monroe 6.45 p.m. 25th)
His Excellency President LINCOLN:
I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales of cotton.
W.T. Sherman,
Major General.
We were glad to know that Savannah's Historic District was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966 and remains one of the largest historic landmarks in the country.
Thanks for coming along with us as we toured this lovely old historical city.  Wishing you a good week with many blessings wherever you may be.