Saturday, April 22, 2017

Hampton Plantation

North of Charleston along Highway 17, back through high pine woods, there sits a decrepit old mansion that was the ancestral home of Archibald Rutledge, former poet laureate of South Carolina.  Last fall Annie, Finn, and I had read Rutledge's book Claws as part of our US geography study.  It's a lush, gripping story of a little boy who gets lost in a cypress swamp and, at the climax of the tale, is face-to-face with a bobcat on a log. 

I'd wanted to take the children to Cypress Gardens so they could get a good feel for what a cypress swamp is really like (you don't know it until you've been in it!), but the gardens were damaged badly in flooding, and have not re-opened.  Bummer.

Then I remembered my father mentioning Rutledge's homeplace.  Yeah! Sold! No cypress swamp, but plenty of lowcountry flavor.  We visited in late December.

My love for old decrepit buildings is nothing new. I fell promptly in love with this one and deeply wished we could buy it and restore it to its former glory.  The plantation, a lovely shell of a home, was still decorated for Christmas with the most basic greenery. 

Look at this color! With the bricks!

The dining room.

Beauty. I loved seeing the plaster and lath juxtaposed with the solid wall. 

The ceilings of this room are strangely higher than other ceilings on the first floor, and because the architecture is Georgian, they have a basically empty, short (5' tall?) room above this one. Having a room above, with windows and doors, was necessary to achieve the Georgian style, but it's creepy, too, because the enormous, short room has never been occupied.

Palmetto and brick. 

The parlor, I think.  Magnolia leaves, pinecones....

...and a sobering display of names and prices of plantation slaves. 

This is the ballroom, and it was so beautiful that I gasped when we entered.  The ceiling is glorious.  

Ballroom mantle detail. 

Be still my heart!  A second floor with a split staircase, then another staircase that winds up to the third floor.    

The second floor was in even worse shape than the first: missing walls, gutted rooms. 

I loved it so much, so dearly. 

A view back to the hall--one staircase going up, another going down.

Little tidbits that tugged at my heartstrings.

Clean Lowcountry light. 

It's just amazing to think of what it once was.  Of children and slaves and family roaming these halls with all their joys and heartaches and dramas. 

Thank you, state of South Carolina, for preserving this dignified beauty. 

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