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Historical Tours: Boone Hall Plantation
Boone Hall Plantation
In a part of the country that has been populated for five hundred years is a land that is the definition of beauty. I was fortunate enough to take a vacation to South Carolina, in which lies the most beautiful land that one person could ever hope to see. Beyond the busy and hectic life of Charleston is a small island that houses many plantations. All of the plantations on this island are beautiful, but one stands out above all the others. Boone Hall Plantation, on the Ashley River in South Carolina, with its tranquil setting and old world style, imparts to its visitors a sense of nostalgia and peace with their surrounding environment.
As you are driving towards the plantation the noise of the city vanishes; you are instantly starting to calm down. Traffic has dwindled to a mere two or three vehicles every minute or two. You realize that not a lot of people come out here. The signs are clear. Trees that tower over most city buildings are right up to the roadway. Grass, green and succulent and still wet with the morning dew, grows over the ditches on both sides of the road. As you turn in to the driveway of the Boone Hall Plantation, you are overwhelmed with sensory input. A pond comes into view. It is complete with lily pads, and frogs, and crickets. With the crickets chirping and the frogs croaking, with the lapping of the water, the pond sends your memory to a place in time where innocence ruled. Once you pass the ticket booth, you drive onto the main driveway. Tall oak trees placed just close enough for the canopies to touch, block out ninety percent of the sun creating a cool breeze on your face. The whole driveway is like this. Soon you approach the house.
The Boone Hall Plantation House
The house is a colonial masterpiece of architecture and design. Rusty red bricks accentuate its color, a faded white near to ivory. The house had to be rebuilt three times since the original, but the bricks were excavated from the original house site. The bricks were made by the slaves of the era. This adds to the history of the house and gives visitors a reminder of the history of the house. As you walk through the front entryway, old hardwood floors creak and moan under your feet. Once you get through the house you end up at the back of the house. Back here you can actually hear the soothing sounds of the Ashley River as its water splashes on the banks. There is an old oak tree that was struck by lightning in the mid nineteenth century. This tree, painstakingly planted by the original owner of the plantation (Mr. Boone), is over three hundred years old.
The next part of our journey will take us past the original slave cabins along “the row of oaks,” as the driveway is referred to. For some people this part of the Boone Hall Plantation is their least favorite. As you approach the slave cabins you start to feel a sense of remorse that is, of course, unfounded. Nonetheless, you realize at this point that slavery was real in all its profound evil. As you peer into the blank windows of the cabins you see the meager living endured by thousands of slaves throughout time until abolishment. From the front door, to the right is usually the bed area, straight ahead is where food was often prepared and eaten, and finally off to the left is a small play or study area for the children. Along the way you come to some people that artistically recreate a craft originally brought over from Africa. That craft is basket weaving, which is very popular with the locals.
From the beginning all the way to the end of your tour, you will feel like you stepped into the past. You see what you might have done back then, in your mind. How life might have been, whether you would have liked to have been alive then, how the food would taste, all these things course through your mind like the Ashley River runs through the property. Sadness creeps up on you as you prepare to leave. As you turn back on the road leading away from the house, you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you will return.