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Archive for the category “Meet Me In Charleston”

Another afternoon in Charleston

Well its the month of January.

The tree is down.

The gifts stowed away.

The house is back to normal.

Whats next?

Last year we stumbled upon the local Museum Mile pass for our downtown, where, for a flat fee, you buy one ticket then get to visit all the museums and museum houses in our historic downtown.

Remember THIS last year?

We visited the Gibbes Museum of Art first this year.

Corene, 1955 By Jonathon Green

When you think of art, what do you think of?

Certainly there are numerous types of art.

Wiki says ART “is a diverse range of human activities in creating visual, auditory or performing artifacts, expressing the author’s imaginative, conceptual ideas, or technical skill intended to be appreciated for their beauty and power.


I always understood ART as anything that makes you think.

To the Gibbes Museum of Art, they sum it up in their Manifesto:

“..the difference between merely existing and being truly alive.”

I think they copied that from my Ourlifein3d Manifesto!

When we entered the Museum we noticed most of the displays were the same as they were last year.

I hoped for newer!

But Art is what you make it and, as Museums go, we set out to learn new things.

First off were the ‘Sisters’.

I call this picture ‘Dylan and Skylar’.

As each of my two ‘sisters’ were humoring their old man and didn’t want to be there either, similar to the sisters in the painting who were being painted by their artist father.

Exhibit number two of what I learned…

Before the roughly 1920-1930 Little Boys were dressed like little Girls in our country and abroad.

In the picture below the caption read the child was the ‘lone son’ of this famous French Commander in our country.

Well the person behind D is dressed like a girl.

I learned in another museum today that around the age of 7 or 8 boys started wearing trousers. Then they were to be treated as an adult (to be seen in pants); not a child any longer.

The quote went on to say how adult women ‘were still treated with the same class as children and hence kept wearing dresses’.


Another interesting piece was this little metal carriage that was cut designed with a laser.

Notice the characters. What do you see or make you think of?

This piece was trying to depict a slave’s suffering in the early part of our country.

First, note in the second picture, a demon of sorts up in the tree reaching down to pull out the young dying slave’s heart.

Second, I want to apologize to everyone and especially the Southern Sea Muse. She is a great photographer and scraps her pics if the horizon in the picture is not level ( I read).

I take these pics with my phone. I try to level them off but not one of them you will see today will be level.

Sorry SSM!  I will never live up to your standards.

(She’s a bit of a Grammar Nazi too I understand)


The smaller third floor had new exhibits. The Noir floor….

‘A Dark Place Of Dreams

Here were several exhibits in black (the land of dreams) and how artists made shapes and things come alive. The various artists are in print under the title on the photo

The first thing that spoke to me were the huge sea shell displays. Real sea shells, they were mounted and painted black.

At first I thought it a bit eerie, but after looking at it for a while it did take on a dream like quality.

Or I was getting tired…..

See if you can blow it up or at least find the detail of all the types of sea shells (and Puffers) in these…

They are all real! (and not riding a Horizontal plane)


Now, keeping with this ‘black box’ theme was this:

Rock, Hard Place, 2012 by Kate Gilmore

..still leaning,

This type of art was not much to look at ….

You had to ‘watch it’!

Have you seen this type of art before?

I hadn’t.

and to speed you to the Big conclusion, this …


The exhibit is called, Rock, Hard Place. And the young artist is just throwing rocks into small clay pots with paint in them.

My kids have been doing that since they were four!

Still, if you stood there, and watched the cascading waterfalls, steadily drop paint on the ground (you can see the artist is trying to keep from slipping) it can mesmerize you a little.

….or I was just tired.

The turn of the corner into the next room was a room full of trash.

..made to look like art.

The first artist illustrated was Chakaia Booker,

….’an American artist that is known for her environmental sculpture work that addresses the struggles and victories in human aspirations and involvement. Her work involves transforming found objects (old tires) into expressive art that tackles social and cultural issues as well as femininity.‘ (wikipedia)

I just saw something made with lots of carved scraps of old tires!

There was a lot of detail in the scraps of shaved old tires. They were still all rubber!

The exhibit reminded me of something a new blogger I follow would appreciate, Harleyte.

She is a one-of-a-kind young lady in France that rides motorcycles and kinda reminds me of a female James Dean…in France. She added her own unique touches to Christmas this year.

She’s cool like that.

I mean, James Dean would like this, right?

So If art makes you think…

What do you see in this next picture by Ms. Booker

Hedge Hogs, right?


What did you see?

Well, If I told you what it was depicting you might think I was making it up. So here is the placard describing this piece of art by Chakaia:

Did you see that?

I did Not see that! Hmmm…well maybe…


So one final piece in this trash room.

It is called “OVER, the rainbow”.

Please take a look. I invite you in the comments below to tell me what you see or what you think the author is trying to say …

OVER, the rainbow

Yes, that is an exhibit with old rubber tires on the top flowing into empty gallon water jugs ( I must still have Chakaia’s last display in my mind), flowing into gallons water jugs cut in half, flowing into tin cans.

What does it mean?


Well, as a proud parent I have to tell you my very own Skylar got something she drew hung in the Gibbes Museum as well!

(we are soo proud of her!)

Skye drew that beautiful flower right there in the middle!

My artist in the making!

Get out of there Skylar!

But art is not restricted to a museum, oui?

As we left the Gibbes Museum right next door was the old Huguenots Building and with it its fine metal art work.

What do you think?

Huguenots were typically French Protestants who fled to this country to escape religious persecution. Although clearly, the green sign above the church door and the metal harp over the entrance suggest these people were from Ireland.

But wait, when in doubt, what does the sign say?

Use your context clues..

That would be a rough crowd!

Can you imagine that back in that day?

Catholics and Protestants meeting…… in a bar?


It was a great day here in Charleston this weekend and across the street from the Gibbes Museum this pretty scene was going on.

They picked a

Great day!

Oh to be married in Charleston!

Things could be worse!

Thanks for reading on through all this knuckleheads!

I will try to do better next time!

Have the best week this week!

And give somebody a hug!








Tourist In My Hometown Pt.2

So we have this Museum Mile pass that I told you about last week and it is week two for acting a like a tourist in our hometown. 

Last weekend we visited the Charleston Museum and then the museum houses of the Joseph Manigault house, the Heyward Washington house (yes, that Washington) and the Aiken Rhet or Gov. William Aiken house. And all within walking distance of each other.

So, for those about to tour / endure some old museum houses, we salute you!

Revolutionary War cannon guarding the Charleston Museum

The Charleston Museum was OK, great if you enjoy reading about history, wars fought, and the evolution of Charleston, entitled Becoming Americans. But the Natural History portion was smallish and not a lot of truly unique things to see.

We stayed there 3 hours.

There was a mummy and some old coffins from Egypt that stood out to me but that is about it.

The first two houses we toured we were not allowed to use our cameras, lucky for you and your post downloads. So I have some copied pics from their website, unless they are from outside.

One of Charleston’s most exquisite antebellum structures, the Joseph Manigault House, built in 1803, reflects the urban lifestyle of a wealthy, rice-planting family and the enslaved African Americans who lived there.

Joseph Manigault was the brother to the man in the final painting in my previous post, Charles Manigault, the grandsons of the ultra wealthy, Peter Manigault. The house was also designed by his brother Gabriel, a ‘Gentleman Architect.

This house, and other Neoclassical houses of the time, were known for their ‘balance’. One side of the wall mirrored the other. If a door was on the right then a door was on the left, even if it did not open. As you go down through these pictures you can plainly see the dedication put into there balance. 

See the balance on the outside of the house. The left is exactly the same as the right.

And so it went inside.

Still listing to the right a little

Descending from French Huguenots who fled religious persecution in Europe in the late 1600s, the Manigaults prospered as rice planters and merchants during the 18th century and became one of South Carolina’s leading families.

The house above was termed a summer house (they did not live here all year round) but in truth it was a winter house as the Manigaults inhabited the house during the winter months that were actually known as Charleston’s ‘social season‘. It’s just too hot in the summer here, to get dressed up not to mention too many smells.

The city of Charleston at this time was actually a walled city. A wall was built around Charleston to protect it from pirates, the Spanish, and the French in the 1700’s and early 1800’s. This house was actually on the outside of the wall. So they liked to be called ‘in the country’.

It’s too much to go into but you can imagine how many smells are contained in the walled city, or outside for that matter. Start with the horses in the streets, throw in no running water, livestock slaughtered on one’s property, maintaining livestock from horses, cows and chickens on many properties and so on. This is why most houses had dining rooms, bedrooms and rooms for entertaining on the second floors.

Affluent houses such as these had water management system, usually consisting of a well but later developing into a ‘cistern’ due to the well water getting contaminated.

Water management in colonial life

Such was life in the 1700s and early 1800’s

Joseph Manigault inherited several rice plantations and over two hundred slaves from his grandfather in 1788, and also married (very) well.

Arthur Middleton, father of his first wife, Maria Henrietta Middleton, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Following Henrietta’s death, he married Charlotte Drayton, with whom he had eight children.

If you ever visit Charleston two very well-known plantations to visit are the Middleton Place (Henrietta Middleton)

and Drayton Hall (Charlotte Drayton).

Note below the balance on the wall. A door on the right and one on the left. Pictures, tables and urns balancing each other out. The tassel on the left of the fireplace was used to call the slaves for service. The tassel to the right of the fireplace was just there for decoration.

It did nothing.


 Notice the tassels above and below.

The Drawing Room. Through the door is the Withdrawing Room. Notice the Balance.

Most homes of distinction had rooms for entertaining called Drawing Rooms. Sometimes the men would like to sneak out and smoke and talk business. They retreated to the Withdrawing Rooms.

Heyward-Washington House

Built in 1772, this Georgian-style double house was the town home of Thomas Heyward, Jr., one of four South Carolina signers of the Declaration of Independence.

A patriot leader and artillery officer with the South Carolina militia during the American Revolutionary War, Heyward was captured when the British took Charleston in 1780. He was moved to St. Augustine, Florida, with several other influential Charlestonians but was exchanged in 1781.

The City rented this house for George Washington’s use during the President’s week-long Charleston stay, in May 1791, and it has traditionally been called the “Heyward-Washington House.” The story goes many a wealthy Charlestonian wrote letters to George Washington to please stay at their house. Mr. Washington, in true politician style, could not, would not decide. So he asked the Mayor of Charleston to pick out a suitable dwelling for his week long stay.

Heyward sold the house in 1794 to John F. Grimke, also a Revolutionary War officer and father of Sarah and Angeline Grimke, the famous abolitionists and suffragettes.

The building on the right was the water management system. The large building on the left was the kitchen on the first floor and the slave quarters on the second floor. The building on the far left, where you can only make out the tiled roof, was the ‘Necessary’ room.

Three guesses on what was necessary.

And why wasn’t it closer?

Were there no prostate issues on the 1700-1800’s?

 Why do you think the kitchen was not part of the main house in colonial times?

Past the Pirate Courtyard to some Ghost Tours

So now I had to take a pause. (not applause)

So these houses were bought and sold several times from their original owners over the years, how is it the furniture, paintings, etc. are legit?

Enter the phrase ‘ museum house’. These houses have been bought by the Charleston Museum and / or the Charleston Preservation Society and ‘restored‘ to what they may have looked like using family  or historic documents.

For instance, the Joseph Manigualt House was bought by an Esso gas station at one point and sold gas in the front yard. The third owner of the Heyward Washington house was a baker and turned the first floor into a bakery. The floors may be original floors but the paint color “may have been” or “what we think it was” using historical data.

There were several really incredible book cases in both houses.

Most of the furniture were ‘time pieces’, maybe not from that family, but a piece of furniture from that time period. The Rice Plantation bed on Joseph Manigaults room looked too good to be 175 years old. It was a dead giveaway.

So I wondered what would a house that was not made over look like? Did these restored houses lose their original integrity?

I had my theory answered as we walked over to the Aiken Rhett House.

This house is termed, ‘preserved not restored.’ And I tell you, walking through the dimly lit house, with the floors squeaking and the paint peeling off the walls, it was more than a little creepy.

It reminded me of the hotel in The Shining after it had been abandoned.

I will try to go faster here with a picture tour. If interested in this history take your time and read behind the scenes or just go at your own pace to stay ahead of the tour. Please leave your audio headphones at the cashier’s desk as you leave.

Here is why the house is called the Aiken Rhett house. And also thee Love letter. It is also known as Gov. William Aiken house.

Marble stairway entrance

Large two room divided living room downstairs

Very detailed moldings on the main living room chandelier

Leaving the living room, and chasing the sunlight, we went through some large open double doors onto a roomy piazza. The single hung windows (on the right border) transform into doorways that allow you to walk onto the piazza. These windows are advantageously placed to allow for a cross breeze through the house and are extremely common in the South. These roomy piazzas on three sides of the house.

The back yard or courtyard, completely walled in.

Kitchen and Slave quarters on the right. The stables and garage on the left

 Remember the kitchen picture at the Heyward Washington house? Here is what the kitchen may have resembled had it not been ‘restored’

And this is what is left of the oven and stove

We took the worn down stairs upstairs above the kitchen to see the floor the resident slaves lived on.

There were 4 individual rooms up stairs. Each room had its own door with a lock for privacy and a window. At the end of the hall was actually a type of sitting room where the slaves could gather at the end of their day.

Going back out to the courtyard we noticed some nice trees and two Necessary Rooms (2 green doors) all the way at the end of the lot.

After viewing the stables and some very old but nice horse-drawn carriages we went back inside and to the second floor to Governor Aiken’s Drawing room.

 Above is the picture in the brochure. Below is what I saw. I don’t even know if you could use the word ‘preserved’ for this room. But with the large airy room I imagine it could have been very enchanting in its time.

We toured several other rooms on the second floor including master bedrooms and bathrooms, all dimly lit with make-shift  lights and electricity cords, all in disrepair. There was a small but well stocked library. And as we headed towards the end of our tour we opened the door to the only ‘restored room’ in the house, the Gallery….

We had to open the door to the Gallery as it was the only room in the house with air conditioning. And I imagine you needed the A/C to protect these beautiful works of art..

I couldn’t even afford the frames on these paintings!

My favorite piece, of course, was the focal piece, a sculpture by Italian Domenico Menconi of Mary Magdalene, signed and dated 1858.

She has her hands on the books of the Old Testament and New Testament.

To me, it seems she is looking to heaven, dreaming, in an expression that says it all.


So that was our weekend as we toured some more landmarks where we live. It is truly magical going on holiday for a day (wish it were longer) and reliving or imagining some of the history available in Charleston.

Thanks for touring these with us! We have one more weekend to sight see.

And then I can get around to the Christmas post  🙂

Have a great weekend everyone!










Being a Tourist In My Hometown, Pt 1

This month we ran across something that the Charleston Visitor’s Center is putting on for locals, the Museum Mile. In January, the tourist trade is down in our town so it is a great time to be a tourist with this Museum Mile.

This promotion gives us access to participating Museum Mile sites with the purchase of one low ticket price. With the Museum Mile pass, we can spend an entire month learning about Charleston’s rich history and culture; a place we read about, and our kids learn in school, but never find the time to experience.

There are over 20 museums, museum houses, and other historical buildings to explore on this package. This past weekend we decided to tour ..

So can I introduce you to the Gibbes Museum of Art?

“Through our complicated history, through light and shadow, we have persevered – humanity intact.
Art is the reason.”

“When the Gibbes Museum opened in 1905, the nation celebrated what Charleston has always understood: the power of art – to inspire our imagination, heal our hurt, and nourish our souls.”

(shhh…I’m getting all these sayings right off their website)

So if you are interested in taking a brief tour through a historical art collection with some pretty interesting things found in art, subjects, expressions, mediums, or stories behind the scene, read on.

I copied some of the tags of the art work that accompanies these gems in the museum so the real story of the paintings does not get lost in translation.

So grab a chair or beverage, and lets stroll through some of the rooms of the Gibbes and see some great works of art that I found very interesting. I am sure there is something at the Gibbes for everyone.

Now I do not know much about art; maybe two things.

Art is what you like, not what others like.

Art, true art, great art, should make you think.

Like this provocative painting from the 1920’s

Does this remind you of someone? What could she be thinking about?

First thing that you might notice is….. I am not a Photographer. It seems I am listing to the right on all these pics.

So what is art? What is not art?

Does this make you think?

Here is a local piece called the Betwixt and Between

Pretty cool, oui?

I am not sure what it makes me think of other than how did they do that and will it start to decay?

Here is my other daughter, Skylar

But there were several other exhibits besides this natural one.



Is that an authentic facial expression or what? Have we all been there?

First, I have to tell you, it seems all good sculptors from this time period came from Italy. Many a good American sculptor went to Italy to learn their craft.

I found by the early 1800s, Neoclassicism was a style that was at its height in sculpting. American-born artists were beginning to make their mark in the art world. They traveled to Italy to learn their craft.

Wiki says, “Neoclassicism was an art style that celebrated physical characteristics in the spirit of Ancient Greek and Roman art. To 18th-century Europeans, the human figure in Greek art, with its cool, unemotional appearance, was the ideal and a means of conveying a sense of timelessness and reason.

And I think you can see that in the young lady’s expression above.

Second, it seems people in Italy at that time never button their shirts, if they have one on at all. And everyone must have bench pressed at least 250 pounds.

Below was my favorite piece in the whole museum..

No, not of the Edmond Fitzgerald

Marble again. Love the detail. Love the story

I was amazed at the detail put into carving up this block of stone. You really can’t see it below but great care was put into the man’s hair, the dangling rope, his pants and even the lines on his drooping socks to make the art look real.

Now maybe my kids didn’t find these sculptures as interesting as I. Thankfully the museum had some staff to keep a watch over them while we appreciated the art work and the stories behind them

I bet that lady was from Italy too..


I love that,

Magic In The Mundane“.

Does that make you think?

I would be interested in your ideas of what message the artist is trying to convey there in the Comments below. I have one or two interpretations.

Mostly, it reminds me of what great mothers do. But if you look at it, there is so much more going on in that pic, isn’t it?

Next is another, piece of art; a memory!

A memory recorded down over the ages.

This ‘memory’ or story was sitting beside a painting of some slave shacks from the Boone Hall Plantation in Charleston.

Do you remember when I did a POST on my oldest’s field trip there two years ago?

Slave Street

Well I thought this piece of art below interesting as an example of possibly one healthy way that slaves from that time used to help endure their bondage. To me, it really makes you think.


No, not talking of history like this below, although it is a good snapshot of an important moment in the US history.

Bombardment Of Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbor 1863‘ oil on canvas 1886 by William Aiken Walker

I mean like Historic Art that comes from the period it represents.

The Gibbes Museum had a series of portraits, old portraits from some Charlestonians over the years. It is not that these people were so famous or important (most were) but it is what they were wearing, their expressions that were captured, and the background that struck me.

The authentic clothes were from the time of the paintings. The looks of people were from that time. Their clothes and hair styles authentic. Their homes or decor. Anything that was in the painting would be authentic. This is how people lived in these time periods.

Take a look at these dates on these paintings. They are legit museum pieces of art.

So this was an American born young man wearing British style attire. Did you catch that?

The date shows before the revolutionary war when the Carolinas had their ‘Governors’ appointed by the King at that time. Also I see he married his cousin. That’s one way to keep the money in the family.

Was that a toy bow and arrow? Or a real one?

Remember the old Christmas Carol, Up On The House Top,  where a boy dreams of

” Here is a hammer and lots of tacks.
Also a ball and a whip that cracks.”

That Christmas classic was written circa 1857.

In one picture of some kids  from the 1800’s in the museum there was a young boy holding a little whip with a kinked knot or two on the end of the rope.

And finally I thought, and found out, this a particularly interesting one:

Two very big names in early Charleston, Manigault and Heyward

In this painting the family Manigault was vacationing in Rome. There were no cameras or cell phones of course. So the happy family just had to have someone paint a picture of them to capture the memories and bring them home. Tough life.

Beside this painting in the museum was a portrait of Mr. Maniqualt that was captured ‘in Philadelphia on his way to a 6 year trip to China.’ 

I can’t even imagine this type of life. A 6 year trip to China in the mid 1800’s? What would he use for currency?

His Grandfather, Peter Manigault was the wealthiest person in the British North American colonies  (Wiki says), He practiced law, became a successful merchant and banker, and managed his family’s over 200 slaves and extensive plantation holdings. His net worth of approximately £33,000 in 1770 is equal to approximately $4 million in 2016.[5] 

Think about that for a second.

If it cost about $26 to build a house back then, how much was $4 million worth?

And so, as I thought, I realized this most be art. A painting on the wall that makes Magic from the mundane.

So what about you? What types of art do you like?


Enjoy your own art this week and weekend.

I hope you make some of your own!


“We believe art is the difference between merely existing and being truly alive.”

~ the Gibbes Museum

Christmas Light Park

I  mentioned a festive week. How about a Festival of Lights?

With family in town and the great outdoors begging us to get outside for some Christmas cheer, last night we decided to take the kids to our James Island County Park ‘Festival of Lights‘ show.

This is our local version of the drive through light show. It is something the kids look forward to every year. For some reason they were looking forward to toasting marshmallows more than ever before.

20137This year we did the drive through as well. but, with the kids yearning for some s’mors we quickly parked the car and headed for the fires and some marshmallow toasting.

FireWe did. We melted. Our lips and fingers got awfully sticky.  So we set off to see what else we could see.

You know what? I think this Christmas light park is really for kids….

20134So we rode the carousel a time or two. We found the customary Hot chocolate and laid plans to see what else we could conquer….

hot chocolateIt was a comfortably cool night and so we decided to do something we had never attempted before…the walking path light show….

walk this wayThe bright and colorful lights were inviting. The night was young. We had our hot chocolate…and our cell phones cameras and so off we went in search of more adventure!

WP_20131226_025There was the usual fare for picture ops…


We found a gingerbread house we could get in….

Gingerbread house

We even found a dolphin among the land-locked light show…

We found some wonderfully lit trees…

201317and then we found a light display that actually talked to us. Take a listen….

…just in case you have not heard Mannheim Steamroller enough this month.

the display really caught your attention as you walked on by.

Our trail took us to a fifty ton pile of sand that was cleverly sculpted into…

sand castle

..Santa’s Castle. The kids seemed to enjoy the glorified sand castle a little…

sand Castle w D

As the path led back towards the start we came upon a giant Christmas Card display or contest from area school students. I have to admit….they are better than me at this….

Middle school

and a take off on our area’s Shrimp and Grits….

Shrimp and Gifts

and another that offers ‘Season’s Greetings from our shores to yours’

our shores to yours

All in all it was a nice night out. The walking path light show is one we have not done before so that made the whole night a bit more interesting this time too.

And MOST importantly, the kids seemed to really like the lights too, despite our repeated “No’s” to “Carry me, Carry me!


….its a Griswold Christmas!

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Field Trip!!

OK, so some of you feel I need to do another blog post. My girls are so in demand! We have been busy but nothing too really interesting that merits ‘blog worthiness’ I thought…until Friday ..when I became a

Field Trip chaperone!

That’s right, I volunteered to take a day off and accompany a bus full of nice little kids 3rd graders on a field trip. We were going to one of our neighboring historical plantations where they were to get illustrations and examples of early ‘Cash Crops’ in our country that they had just studied in school.

Walking down the halls of the elementary school that morning someone asked if I was chaperoning? I said Yes, (apparently it is my turn in the family). The nice teacher offered back, “You know, they give all the problem kids to the male chaperones!”

Not me. I had my Dylan in my group, the nicest kid.


Before I start, here is some background on Boone Hall Plantation (the most photographed plantation in America), our target destination plantation. It is one of the magnificently maintained plantations preserved from our 1700 and 1800’s in the Charleston area.

Here are some facts from Wikipedia:

The earliest known reference to the site is of 1681, in a land grant of 470 acres (1.9 km2) from owner Theophilus Patey, to his daughter Elizabeth and her new husband, Major John Boone. Apparently, cultivation was started on the tract almost immediately; a wooden house was raised on the tract in 1790. It was a two-story frame house with a one-story front porch.

The house that stands now was built by Thomas Stone, a Canadian who purchased the land in 1935. He wanted a “grander style” home than what was there, so he built the Colonial Revival-style house in 1936  that stands there today.

The bricks in the house were made in their Horlbeck brickyard. the Horlbecks were previous owners of Boone Hall Plantation. This new house was designed by Beers and Farley of New York. Mr. Stone also reinvigorated the pecan farming operation at the plantation, focusing on about 200 acres of what had been a 700-acre pecan farm along with other agricultural initiatives like apples, strawberries and other local crops.

But then World War II broke out and Mr. Stone was asked to return back to Canada. He sold the property to a Russian, or Georgian Prince, Dimitri Djordjadze in 1940.

Now does that strike anybody as odd, that a Canadian sold the property during World War II to a Russian?

Regardless, the property was sold again in 1945 to Dr. Henry Deas and his wife Adele Deas and then a gain to the current owners, Harris M. McRae and his wife, Nancy Thomas in 1955. The McRaes opened the plantation to the public in 1956 and have made great efforts to preserve the original structures and gardens.

Today, we simply know it as Boone Hall Plantation, one of America’s oldest working plantations, continually growing crops for over 320 years now. Boone Hall Farms is the present agricultural arm that operates this part of the plantation. April to June, strawberries are the centerpiece at Boone Hall Farms. The annual Lowcountry Strawberry Festival caps off the peak of each season and thousands of pounds of strawberries are picked from Boone Hall Farms U-Pick fields.

Avenue of Oaks ~ ask me about those big balls!

Avenue of Oaks ~ ask me about those big balls!

On the grounds today, besides the house, sit nine of the original slave cabins which date back to 1790-1810, a smokehouse dating from 1750, a Cotton Gin house (1853), and the grand Avenue of Oaks that was created in 1743 and completed in 1843. The live oak trees run 3/4 of a mile long from the entrance to the front house gates.They used to have their own brick mill too (Horlbeck brickyard), where slaves produced all the bricks for the house and a few of the slave quarters. We could make out finger prints in these bricks.

I can’t speak for the 3rd graders but I learned more in the first 15 minutes of the tour than I thought I would the entire trip.

Take for instance the local and plentiful Spanish Moss hanging in the Oak tress:

Neither 'Spanish' nor 'Moss'

Neither ‘Spanish’ nor ‘Moss’

The guide first pointed out the abundant Spanish Moss hanging from the old live oaks on the property. As everything has a history here she asked the visiting 3rd graders not to put any in their pockets to take home. “..that the Spanish Moss has bugs in it.”

Still that did not stop the early settlers from stuffing their pillows and even their mattresses with it the guide told us. But you know what? It still had bugs in it.

Hence the old saying, “Don’t let the bed bugs bite”.

There, now you learned something too.

Our guide went on to point out Spanish Moss is neither from Spain nor is it moss. Spanish Moss is actually closer to the Pineapple family.

Go figure. I learned something again!

Our guide then pointed out the beautiful live oaks lining the Avenue of Oaks. She said they date back some 250 years, suggesting that the early owners here actually planted these beauties them self.

See that metal balls in the pictures above? They are called Ballast Balls. They were used in the unloading of the early crops from the flat boats going down to the harbor.

If one of these long boats had a few 500lb bundles of cotton removed from one end they might tip over from the weight on the other end of the boat. So as the heavy product was unloaded these Ballast Balls would be put on to the vacated area, replacing the weight and helping to stabilize the boat.

Slave Street

Slave Street

Next on the tour was Slave Street, a row of 9 brick homes that housed some of the slaves for the plantations. Now these were made of brick and had wooden floors, not what you picture most slaves in America having.

We find out these homes belonged to the ‘upper crust’ of the slaves, so to speak. These slaves had jobs working in the owner’s house, or carpenters or something.

Field slaves, as they were called, had their own set of houses, not nearly as ‘livable’ as this.


The first house at the top of Slave street was called, Praise House and that is where the slaves had their house of worship.

It was pointed out the most of these slaves came from Western Africa and often spoke different languages. From their captivity they were forced to learn English (and Christianity apparently). They were not allowed to speak their native languages. From these old African dialects formed a new African type of English called Gullah, which you can still hear today in some remote areas of the coast of Carolina and the lands surrounding the Gulf.

The next house displayed the craft or art form or skill of making Sweetwater Baskets out of the local sweet grass. These were time-consuming but were a major part of the early life here, along with things made from clay in the early years. These flat baskets were used in gathering rice. But I found the one style below very interesting; the Moses Basket.

See if you can read the description below…

Moses Basket

Moses Basket

Again, these were some important slaves to the life of the Plantation. Still they did their jobs then came back to these houses after their jobs were finished.


Our group, and their 50+ pair of dirty shoes, were not allowed on the Plantation Home either.


The bulk of the tour was on the raising of cotton in the fields and the evolution of that trade here in America. There was great care put into tilling the soil for this very labor intensive and profitable crop.


In the presentation the guide pointed out all the tiny seeds that needed to be pulled from the flower of cotton before it could be usable. This may have been done by the slave children.

Later, the Cotton gin was invented that could mechanically de-seed the cotton, helping to enhance a faster production of cotton into the 300 – 500 pound bundles that were sold out of Charleston harbor.

But it was pointed out a slave could work from sunrise to sunset and still only pull about 3-4 pounds of cotton. So LOTS of slaves were used to establish this lucrative cash crop in the early south.

Rice presentation

Rice presentation

The kids also learned a little about Rice, which was grown in abundance here in the coastal Lowcountry. The low-lying wetlands were a perfect place to grow rice, the seeds brought over from Europe. It became a staple in the early colonial diet. So much so that today it was discussed how some local families still prefer rice over mashed potatoes in their Thanksgiving day dinner.

Another cash crop brought over from Europe was the plant Indigo. The local climate of Charleston made it a natural place to produce Indigo.

Now the green plant is not easy to grow here. The local horticulturists at the Boone Hall Plantation said they have tried unsuccessfully for three years to grow Indigo here.

The early settlers were successful however. They told us the harvested green plant was diced up and put into barrels to steep, like tea, in the warm South Carolina summers, perfect for creating a warm brew of Indigo.

Still, soaking the warm Indigo was not what was needed to produce the purplish dye. Ammonia was needed to turn it to its useful color.

So the question was presented to the 3rd graders of where do you think they got ammonia from?

Do any of you know?

Standing in line to make Indigo...

Standing in line to make Indigo…

Human urine apparently was rich in ammonia. So human urine was added to the warm barrels of steeping Indigo. Then a slave had to mash and press the color out of the indigo stalks in the barrels, often up to his elbows or higher.

They tell us the process did actually smell worse than you can imagine in the warm Carolina summers. Still, with the abundance of slaves to the wealthy plantation owners, Indigo became a profitable cash crop out of the ports of Charleston in the early colonial and pre-colonial years.

Our Indigo cotton balls we made..

Our Indigo cotton balls we made..

Now, I have mentioned a few times about getting these cash crops to Charleston harbor, a harbor so busy and profitable it was often stalked by actual pirates back in the day including Edward Blackbeard Teach and Stede Bonnet, the gentleman pirate.

The scope of the Plantations production, given free slave labor, was quite impressive even by today’s standards. So how did they these heavy bales of cotton, and rice and barrels of indigo get to the ports?

All of Charleston’s impressive plantations are sitting on the banks of a waterway where the river flows out to the harbor. So boats were used to float the tonnage of products to the ports. If you can see the Indigo picture above you can see the river just on the other side of the bushes.

But there were no motors for ships in these low-lying wetlands, no oars could row these heavy flat ships to port. These plantations relied of the tides to float their product downstream. The boats were loaded up then released as the tides started to rescind from all the coastal waterways. The 2-5 mile trip to the harbor may last all day trip to get to the harbor. Sometimes two.

That was a good chunk of our Field trip tour. Sorry I have taken up so much space and of your time of you are still with me.

 I tell you, THIS 3rd grader learned a lot on this Field Trip! And I was so glad I went.


I had a great time with my great 3rd grader!

Now off in a neighboring field the guide told me they were setting up for another, modern-day Cash Crop festival, the Fermented Grape festival (as he told the kids) was taking place this weekend on Boone Hall Plantation!


Now I have heard of this annual Wine Festival but I have never attended it (Yes! Its true!) So I did a little digging to find out more. The number and space for tents looked quite grand!

Here are some pics from last year’s Wine Festival…

Casual Wine Sampling

Casual Wine Sampling with a few hundred of your closest friends under the Oaks

Maybe some ‘Wine Pairing’ too!

(I love Wine Pairing.. I am such a Foodie…sounds better then Winiey I think.

…I don’t want to be known as Winiey)

A famous local chef, bob Waggoner, whips up some snacks. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3irEro0k2U

A famous local chef, Bob Waggoner (Peninsula Grill), whips up some snacks.

Like the Plantation Owners before them, NOTHING is done of a small scale here.

Don’t let your glass go empty!


So who is with me?

Anyone want to tag along to this festive event?

Maybe even take a trip through the Plantation house to use the facilities…

Watch your step!

Glimpse Inside a Well-Manicured Historic house (note poinsettias)

Glimpse Inside a Well-Manicured Historic Plantation House (note poinsettias)

Anyone wanting to make some Indigo used the barrels behind the Plantation House.


If you would like more info on this historic plantation go to their website at:


For More History on Boone Hall Plantation here is a good place to start.


If you are feeling thirsty or have a penchant for the Fermented Grape Industry you might want to check out this weekend’s festival at:

WINE UNDER THE OAKS  http://boonehallplantation.com/wine_under_the_oaks

Thanks everyone for tagging along. I hope this made you happy!

I’ll try to do better next time knuckleheads….

Oh, one more thing…



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