Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Lisa & Scott's Visit to Charleston - Day 4

Today was plantations on the Ashley day. First stop was Drayton of my most favorite places to visit in Charleston. I love how the house has been kept in its original state (for the most part) with no furnishing, lights or plumbing. The tour of the house is very good but the tour guides are hit or miss when it comes to providing unscripted trivia.

Drayton Hall is part of The National Trust and they do have some of the family's furnishing and other belongings. There are plans to build a museum on the property to showcase everything once the money has been raised. Mr. Drayton kept an extensive diary of the daily accounts of the plantation and there is also a lot of information from archeological digs, however, one of the major advantages that Drayton Hall has over some of the other plantation is they also have personal accounts from the grandson of a former slave. The Draytons, like many plantation owners, hired their freed slaves and provided housing for them. Not only did the freed slave stay on the plantation until his death so did his son. His grandson left for a while and them came back and told the folks at The National Trust he grew up around there and would love to work there. He was the plantation's gate keep for years and helped the archeologists in their digs and answered many of their questions. A definite must see!

Next stop was Middleton Place. We had already planned to visit Middleton but lucked out and got the free tickets from sitting through the painful presentation mentioned on day 3. By the time we arrived at Middleton Place, it was time for lunch so we ate in the restaurant and really enjoyed it. They have a pre-fix menu for $13.95 that includes appetizer, main course and dessert (which is a sampler of 5 desserts). One of my friends and I selected the She-crab soup for the appetizer and it was very delicious (glad they were able to try a better version than the one we had at Tommy Condon's) and the other friend had the Okra Gumbo - it was very tasty. The Catfish Remoulade was very delicious as well as the Zucchini Pie and Middleton Fried Chicken. The only thing that wasn't a fav was their collards...werent cooked long enough or seasoned properly. The service was excellent and I would definitely recommend this restaurant. Since we had the free grounds/stable admission, we opted for the extra $10 for the house tour...honestly don't think I would have spent the $10 for the house tour if we had to pay the $20 for the grounds and stable tour. The house tour was average and only lasted 30 minutes (a bit short for $10) and focused mainly on the paintings of the family members.

We spent some time with the artisans in the stable yard learning about their crafts and how they might have been when the plantation was in its heyday. They were interesting; however, it would have been better if they were in character like you see at Plymouth Plantation and Williamsburg. There's a beautiful peacock in the stable yards that showed his plume quite often to no avail as the peahen was not in the least bit interested in him. While walking across the Rice Mill Pond Bridge, we did see a small gator sun bathing a little too close for comfort but pretty cool. The property is quite beautiful and a great place for strolling around and taking pictures.

After Middleton Place, we headed back to my folks for some more of my dad's cooking...tonight was BBQ ribs, baked beans and potato salad...yum yum.

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