Plantations of the Upstate

To really get a feel for how life was like back "in the day", take a tour and visit one of several Upstate plantation homes. These grand homes and gardens provide glimpses into our past. See how meals were prepared without a cooktop or oven or even a refrigerator, how beds were made out of hay and what life was like before electricity and air conditioning.

Ashtabula Historic House
This 1825 home sits on ten acres just east of Pendleton. Built by Lewis Ladson Gibbes and Maria Drayton Gibbes, the house is a two-story clapboard style with a large wrap around porch. There's also an original two-story brick building on the grounds, built sometime prior to 1790, which was a traveler's tavern before the main house was built. A breezeway was constructed between the main house and the former tavern which was later used as the plantation kitchen.

The home is operated and maintained by the Pendleton Historic District and is located at 2725 Old Greenville Hwy, Central.

Woodburn House
Also maintained by the Pendleton Historic District is Woodburn, an 1830's four-story clapboard plantation home set on 10 acres. The house was built by Charles Cotseworth Pinckney. Later it was owned by the Adger family from Charleston who expanded the house to 18 rooms and over 1,000 acres of land.

There are also three outbuildings including a reproduction of the Adger Victorian Carriage house containing the traveling coach of Thomas Green Clemson; a one-room c.1810 log house built by Robert Moorhead serving as the cookhouse; and a reproduction of a slave/tenant house interpreting the life of Jane Edna Hunter, the African-American activist who founded the Phylis Wheatley Society, who was born in such a house at Woodburn in 1882.

The home is operated and maintained by the Pendleton Historic District and is located at 130 History Lane, Pendleton.

Historic Brattonsville
Brattonsville is considered to be one of the most important and heavily visited historical sites in South Carolina with 30 buildings and over 775 acres. Portions of the movie The Patriot, starring Mel Gibson, were filmed here.

The Bratton family was known as a family of physicians with a good majority of the family being in the medical profession. In addition to a huge working plantation, the Bratton family owned several homes that are now in the historical district. In the 1950's and 60's different Bratton family buildings and acreage was acquired from the Bratton family and other stewards and in 1971 the Brattonsville Historical District was created. 

Not all of the buildings are original to the site however, as several have been brought from other areas of the Piedmont to provide visitors an overview of the evolution of southern culture and architecture.

Slaves were an important part of the plantation life and Brattonsville is one of the few living history sites that have African-American interpretations.  At one point it was estimated that the Bratton's had 139 slaves who worked and lived on the plantation.  

Every Saturday is Living History Day with costumed interpreter's onsite.  You can learn to make linen thread from flax, tend the garden, or even shear a sheep depending on the day's activities.

Brattonsville is located at 1444 Brattonsville Rd, McConnells.

Walnut Grove Plantation
Built by Charles and Mary Moore in 1763, this plantation contains a manor house where the couple raised ten children and lived for 40 years. It also includes Rocky Spring Academy, one of the first schools in the county. 

During the Revolutionary War, the Moore's, including daughter Kate Barry, supported the Patriot cause and militia even mustered at Walnut Grove. Loyalist William "Bloody Bill" Cunningham raided the plantation in November 1781 and killed three Patriot soldiers sheltered by the Moore's.

Walnut Grove offers hourly guided tours of the site's 250-year-old buildings. Regular programs examine Colonial & Revolutionary Era history and often feature re-enactors portraying people of the time.

Outbuildings include the office of the county's first doctor, a smokehouse, blacksmith, wheat house, well house, dry cellar and barn. A nature trail leads to the family cemetery.

Walnut Grove is maintained by the Spartanburg Historical Association and is located at 1200 Otts Shoals Road, Roebuck.

Rose Hill Plantation
Known as South Carolina's "Secession Governor," William Henry Gist was the son of a Charleston merchant and rose from modest beginnings to be elected governor of South Carolina in 1858. He was a cotton farmer and Rose Hill produced nearly 300 bales of cotton and 4,000 bushels of corn per year. 

Today, Rose Hill Plantation State Historic Site stands as a fine example of plantation homes of the South, and its purpose is to interpret the life and legacy of Gist.

The plantation was originally between 7,000 to 8,000 acres. 44 acres immediately surrounding the Gist mansion are maintained by the South Carolina State Park and the remaining acreage is part of the Sumter National Forest.

The home and grounds are a state historic site and is located at 2677 Sardis Rd, Union.

Before visiting any of the plantation homes be sure to check each website for hours, admission fees and any special events that may be happening.

Sherry Jackson is a freelance writer, editor and entrepreneur. Her articles have been featured in InfoWorld Magazine,, USA Today, Blue Ridge Country, Jetsetter, Bootsnall, Gadling, Yahoo, See the South, Beckett Media, The Simpsonville Sentinel and many other print and online publications. For clips and examples of her work, please visit her website at