Monday, August 15, 2005

Lisa & Scott's Visit to Charleston - Day 2

This was supposed to be our Plantations on the Ashley day but my friend really wanted to visit Boone Hall Plantation today as the weather forecast for our Boone Hall day was not looking so good. I was a little reluctant to visit Boone Hall as it hasn't had the greatest tourist rep in the past few years but my friend is a huge North and South buff so off to Boone Hall we went.

All I can say is, it's a definite must see when coming to Charleston. Boone Hall is America's oldest working plantation and full of all sorts of surprises. The admission is $14.50 ($13.00 if youre AAA or a senior) and that includes the self-guided tour of the grounds and a professionally guided tour of the house. We got there just in time to take the 12:30 Plantation Coach Tour for $5 and I must say, it was the best $5 I have ever spent. Our guide was Bob and he was fabulous! The tour was supposed to last 45 minutes but Bob's tour was a bit longer...a little over an hour. The coach tour takes you all over the plantation...you see all sorts of wildlife in addition to the working part of the plantation. On a side note, you must be at least 6 years old to take this coach tour. Apparently in the past parents have expected the tour guide/driver to also be a babysitter for their kids instead of watching their own children which resulted in a child getting hurt (the ride can be rather bumpy especially after a rain) so the plantation's insurance company now requires all passengers to be at least 6 years old...if only parents would watch their own children.

After the coach tour, we headed up to the plantation's restaurant, Serena's. YUM YUM YUM! The restaurant is open for lunch daily and what a great lunch it was...not to mention very reasonably priced. My friends tried fried green tomatoes for the first time and I must say they were the best fried green tomatoes I have ever eaten. I asked the server if we could get a side of hush puppies so my friends could try them and imagine our surprise when we got the bill, they did not charge us for them. After a fabulous lunch, we shared a slice of the Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie and Banana Pudding...definitely needed to walk after that lunch.

Next stop - the Cotton Dock and the Slave Cabins. There's a nice view from the Cotton Dock (also a popular stop for weddings/receptions) which is great place to sit and relax at the Plantation. The Slave Cabins recently underwent about a seven year restoration. There is a short video presentation in one of the cabins giving a brief history of the life of the slaves. Another cabin has a sweet grass exhibition, while another shows how the cabins may have been furnished and finally one showing some items found during excavations by archeologists. On our way up to the house, we stopped and talked with Miss Annie while she made some of her sweet grass baskets. She is a terrific artist and is there on Mondays and Wednesdays. Her baskets are of highest quality and the best prices I have seen in Charleston. Tip: do not buy your baskets down at the Market as they are over priced...instead pick them up at Boone Hall or along Highway 17.

Our final stop at the plantation was the house tour. Our guide was Asim and he was terrific! He has done an enormous amount of research on his family's history but also on all the plantations here in Charleston. The house tour included a great deal of history (apparently a recent addition to the tour) and was extremely interesting. I know many folks complain that the current house was only built in 1935 but what I think they may not know is the current house is actually the forth house to built on that spot. The first 3 houses were destroyed by war and forces of nature. The bank actually foreclosed on the third house and during its holding of the house, several hurricanes caused extensive damage to the house. When the Stone family bought the house, it was better to tear down the old house and build a new one. Boone Hall Plantation once made brick (as a matter of fact the brick made at Boone Hall was used to build the City Market and the Old Exchange/Provost Dungeon), however, until the Stones rebuilt the house, there was never a brick main house...all previous houses were made of wood.

After spending almost 5 hours at Boone Hall, we headed over to Isle of Palms to kick back and relax for a little while. We hit Ye Old Fashion Ice Cream Parlor for dinner and dessert...do love their BLT club!!

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