Middleton Place, SC

In 1972 Middleton plantation was designated a National Historic Landmark. I visited the beautiful grounds on April 25th, 2021 to learn about its rich history and walk around its well manicured gardens. The documentation I read starts in 1730 when John Williams began its construction. The property became his daughter Mary’s dowry when she married Henry Middleton (1717 – 1784). The couple added two buildings and lived on the property.

Henry initiated the development of its enchanting gardens architected after Europe’s classic landscape garden designs. They are known as America’s oldest surviving landscaped gardens. They follow the design principles of Andre Le Notre namely “Rational order, geometry and balance; vistas, focal points and surprises”.

*This image is a photo of the display at the entrance

Henry was influential in politics becoming the second president of the First Continental Congress. The property was passed on to Arthur Middleton (1742–1787) who was also involved in politics and one of the signer of the Declaration of Independence. Arthur’s son Henry (1770–1846)  was a State Senator, Governor of South Carolina, a member of the US House of representatives and a minister to Russia for nine years. He lived on the property, embellishing the gardens further with the help of his friend Andre Michaux who brought the first Camelia plant to an American garden. Henry hosted President James Monroe at Middleton’s Place.

Williams Middleton (1809–1883) inherited the property from his father. He was a signer of the South Carolina’s Ordinance of Secession. The property was burned during the Civil War by Union soldiers and was badly affected by the Charleston earthquake of 1886. Restoration didn’t resume until 1924 with John Julius Pringle Smith and his wife who inherited it from their cousin Mary, Williams’ daughter. Their grandson Charles Duell established the non-profit Middleton Place Foundation to preserve Middleton Place as an educational and historic property, open to the public.

*This image is a photo of the display at the entrance

The prominence attained by the Middleton’s would have been impossible without slave labor. Enslaved people constructed the buildings, tended to the rice fields, worked the gardens. They were laborers, cooks, maids, butlers, stable hands, blacksmiths, seamstresses, etc. I intend to return to Middleton’s Place and take their tour “Beyond the Fields: Enslavement at Middleton Place” and learn more about their stories. In the meantime I will leave you with a reference to Nancy Moser’s 2015 blog on this subject.

References Middleton Place Web Site, Nancy Moser’s “The slaves of Middleton’s Place

Around the House

The Gardens

The Spring House

The Rice Mill

The Four Seasons Secret Garden

Reflection Pool

Oaks and Spanish Moss

This is the Middleton Oak. it is between 900 and 1,000 years old.

You may enjoy the following nearby blogs near Charleston

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