The History of Hampton Plantation State Historic Site
History abounds in the Lowcountry both on land and in the water, and now one of our newest tours is taking our adventures to a brand new location; Hampton Plantation! Let’s learn a little bit more about it, shall we?
Welcome back to the blog, our dear adventurers! Do we have any history buffs in our midst? One of our favorite things to do with all of our tours is to combine the natural beauty of the Lowcountry with the history of what happened here. There is so much waiting for us to find right here in the Lowcountry and beyond, as this is one of the oldest inhabited locations in the country. The land has many stories to tell, and we want to keep telling them. This idea inspired one of our newest trips and right to Hampton Plantation. Have you experienced the plantation for yourself on your own adventures? Even if you have already graced this incredible location before, seeing it through the eyes of a Coastal Expeditions tour will be one you’ll never forget. We love to help preserve history and to discover it just as our ancestors did hundreds of years ago, and to slowly begin to see it through their eyes. Are you ready for this trip?
This expedition is led by Captain Chris Crolly, and this very unique boat tour tells the human and natural history of the region, combined with a visit to Hampton Plantation by water. Hampton Plantation is a colonial-era rice plantation, and this National Historic Landmark is now a South Carolina State Park. It is also an interpretive site for the system of slavery, telling the stories of enslaved people from the time of rice cultivation all the way through emancipation.
This tour takes us on a tour and exploration of the Santee Delta by boat. You will meander through some of the most beautiful blackwater creeks that intersect the North and South Santee Rivers. On top of the beautiful views, you might also see bottlenose dolphins, American alligators, osprey, swallow-tailed kites, Mississippi Kites, and more stunning plants that are native to the area. The home, in the mid-1900s, was the home of South Carolina’s very first poet laureate, Archibald Rutledge. The grounds of Hampton Plantation inspired his work, including his book Home By The River. After some time to walk the trails along Hampton Creek and a chance to explore the camellia garden by Rutledge’s grave site near the house, we’ll get back on the boat to the landing on the Santee. Getting excited? Let’s dive into the history of the plantation and learn a little more!
This historic site and state park is the home to the very remote final remains of a colonial-era rice plantation and is an interpretative site for the system of slavery and the colonial period through the end of the Civil War. It also tells of the lives of those who were freed and decided to live close to the plantation for generations after emancipation. Guests can explore the home and walk the stunning grounds. There are trails through the surrounding pine forest, stunning views of Wambaw Creek, and the remains of rice fields that used to go on for miles and miles. Rutledge was the very last private owner of the home and lived there until 1969. One of the many interesting things about the home is that in some areas, pieces of the home have been removed so you can look through it and see exactly how the home was built and constructed in its very early days, at every turn you might learn something new and not even know it!
The beautiful Georgian-style home that now sits on 300 acres of land was built around 1735 for Noe Serre, a Huguenot settler, and was originally only four rooms. In 1757, the home was passed onto Daniel Horry by marriage, and it was Horry who added the second story and the additional wings of the home, including a stunning two-story ballroom. The home, however, didn’t reach its final completion and what it looks like today until 1791, with its grand porch and eight massive columns. George Washington visited the Horry family on his great American tour and prevented the family from cutting down the massive oak tree that stands in front of the home, earning its name, the Washington Oak. One of the only standing buildings separate from the plantation that hasn’t been touched or restored to its original grandeur is the kitchen house. It hasn’t been restored due to the endangered big-eared bats that are living in the attic of the structure, which, according to scpictureproject.org
, is the largest colony in South Carolina.
Another interesting and unique fact about the plantation is that it never left the hands of the family descendants from the original owners to the time it became a historic landmark, thanks to Rutledge. The famous poet that we mentioned earlier, Archibald Rutledge, grew up in the home and returned after he had lived in Pennsylvania for decades working as an English professor. One of his most famous works, Home By The River, is a detailed story of his restoring the home, hunting on the property, planting gardens on the land, and getting to know the descendants of those who had once been enslaved on the property by his ancestors, that he considered family. Throughout his life, he wrote 50 books, many of them about life at Hampton. He was determined for Hampton to be protected, even after his death, so he deeded the property to the state of South Carolina for historic use in 1970, and he passed three years later. While he was alive, he even offered tours of the plantation to anyone who wanted one. He also made sure that the descendants of those who had once been enslaved on the property had full access to the historic cemetery, Sam Hill. They also would have full rights to continue hunting and fishing on the property as well. Thanks to Rutledges books and his philanthropic work, the plantation has remained preserved just as he left it!
History and discovering it can be one of the greatest adventures of all time, adventurers! Taking a moment to step back in time and learn about where we came from is extremely crucial to who we are and who continue to be today. The Hampton Plantation is a stunning mix of outdoor and historical expedition, and we can’t wait for you to discover it with us! Are you looking for nature tours, kayak rentals, paddleboard rentals, island tours, kid-friendly tours, and chances to explore all around you right here in the Lowcountry? We can help you with all of that and more! Until next time, get out there and explore! Adventure awaits!
There was Hampton on the shore, white and stately as of yore,
Seen glimmering through a vista as of years long gone before;
then the desolate Montgomery of those who come no more.
-The Song of the Santee by Archibald Rutledge