Here is another image from my visit last month to Middleton Place Plantation, located along the Ashley River in Charleston.
The house shown is all that remains of a grand three-story home built in 1741 by Henry and Mary Middleton. In 1755, two companion two-story buildings known as flankers were constructed on the north and south sides of the home. The north flanker housed a library of more than 10,000 volumes, paintings and other artwork. The south flanker was used by visitors and also contained the plantation’s business office.
Unfortunately, the main house itself was burned by Union soldiers on February 22, 1865. Henry’s grandson, also named Henry, had signed the Ordinance of Seccession to begin the Civil War, and the Union soldiers went on a rampage in retaliation, destroying as much as they could of the buildings and beautiful gardens on the property.
By the end of the Civil War, the south was in financial ruin, and it would be four more years before the south flanker, the least damaged of the three structures, could be restored by the Middleton family; this then became their primary residence. The Great Earthquake of 1886 leveled the ruins of the other two buildings; you can still see piles of original bricks half buried where the home stood.
Walking inside the building is something of a shock for someone who had grown accustomed to Maymont House in Richmond, one of the earliest homes there to be built for electricity. Obviously, there was no electricity available for homes built in the early to mid 1700s, but it is amazing how dark the inside of the home appears, even in daylight. Candles were very much a requirement. Also, unlike the polished wood floors and carpeting of Maymont, the floors are more bare. It’s hard to imagine living back then…I don’t think I’d have liked it that much, but it’s still a fascinating place to visit.