Middleton Place invites visitors to annual hands-on history experience

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Middleton Place invites visitors to see what life on a Lowcountry plantation was like in the 18th and 19th centuries.

On November 10 and 11, the National Historic Landmark will welcome visitors to immerse themselves in Plantation Days, an annual event designed to reflect the activities of a Charleston plantation during the harvest season. Each day, the Middleton Place Stableyards will be abuzz with demonstrations on cooking, textiles, blacksmithing, coopering, and hands-on activities such as pottery, cotton and rice processing, and candle making. This is the second weekend of Plantation Days, the first took place in October. The November Plantation Days adds sugarcane pressing and cooking, gourd making, basket weaving, and leather tanning to the list of demonstrations.

Harvest season was a hectic and exciting time as cash crops were sent to market and the plantation was prepared for winter. In the 18th and 19th centuries, this work was done by enslaved Africans and African Americans. Plantation Days at Middleton Place will reflect these activities, and provide extensive educational opportunities for visitors, who are invited to interact with artisans, and in some cases, take part in the work. Specialized African American history programs will be a major part of the days’ events.

Joining Middleton Place’s corps of educators and interpreters for the weekend will be Sharon Cooper-Murray, a professional Gullah storyteller and historian. Murray’s storytelling performances, relating traditional Gullah folktales and Gullah culture, add a different dimension to Plantation Days. Murray has studied the Gullah culture for decades. “I was fascinated by the tone and rhythm of this Creole language, and it has become my life-long passion -- the Gullah culture, their stories, music, crafts, foodways, religious folkways -- their way of life,” says Murray. “I have served as an advocate to preserve, conserve, and develop the heritage of this culture.”

Tracey Todd, Vice President of Museums for the Middleton Place Foundation says the event serves as one of the cornerstones Middleton Place’s mission of preservation and education. “Middleton Place is all about history and there’s no better time and place to see ‘Living History’ than Plantation Days,” says. “Fall was not just the end of one planting season, but also the beginning of the next. Whether you were reaping the rewards of a lucrative rice crop, preserving extra food from the garden or selling your spring pigs, this was an exciting time of the year.”

Plantation Days and its family-friendly programs will take place throughout the day on November 10 and 11. Most activities are free with admission to Middleton Place, located at 4300 Ashley River Road. For more information, call (843) 556-6020.