Tuesday, May 6, 2014
The Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission (CCPRC) broke ground on a construction project at McLeod Plantation on James Island. A ceremony was held to honor the occasion.
McLeod Plantation is a 37-acre property located on James Island. McLeod was a site of nearly 300 years of continuous agricultural use and was associated with Revolutionary and Civil War activities.
During this phase of the project, areas of work include a new approach and parking area off of Country Club Drive, a new Welcome Center that will be the first stop for visitors to the property, an open-air pavilion and a viewing deck near the pavilion and Wappoo Creek. Other improvements to be made at the site during this time include upgrades to the infrastructure, repairs to the interior of the main house and two slave houses (to enable public access), exterior work on the gin house and garage, new paths, and several exterior interpretive signs.
McLeod Plantation is expected to open in spring 2015. In the interim, the property is closed to the public and access is not allowed under any circumstances.
The property also features an outstanding collection of historic buildings, several oak allées and a rich archeological record. Perhaps the most significant aspect of the site is its connection to enslaved African-Americans, Gullah Geechee culture and their efforts to achieve freedom and social equality. “Transition Row,” featuring six houses built for the enslaved at McLeod, was home to generations of African-Americans from the late 1700s through the 1980s. The 55th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, a regiment made up of free African-Americans, was quartered in these houses as well. Immediately following the war, the main house served as a regional office for the Freedmen's Bureau and the row of small houses provided homes to freedmen and their families.
The Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission acquired McLeod Plantation from the Historic Charleston Foundation in February 2011 with the goal of opening it as a county park at a later date. Since acquiring the property, CCPRC has worked with consultants, a steering committee and utilizing public input to create a master plan for the historic property. The 21-member steering committee includes members from the Historic Charleston Foundation, The Friends of McLeod, the National Park Service, as well as historical, agricultural and preservation organizations and local, state and federal government. Recent work at the site has included extensive inventory and analysis of the property and a stabilization project to secure and seal its historic buildings.
The future site of McLeod Plantation is located at 325 Country Club Drive on James Island. The mission of the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission is to improve the quality of life in Charleston County by offering a diverse system of park facilities, programs and services. The large park system features more than 10,000 acres of property and includes three land parks, three beach parks, four seasonally lifeguarded beach areas, three dog parks, two landmark fishing piers, three waterparks, 19 boat landings, a climbing wall, a challenge course, an interpretive center, an equestrian center, cottages, a campground, a marina, as well as wedding, meeting and event facilities. The park system also offers a wide variety of recreational services – festivals, camps, classes, programs and more. For more information on CCPRC, call 843-795-4386 or visit www.charlestoncountyparks.com.