Transition to Freedom

In 2015, the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission (CCPRC) opened a window to a complex past at McLeod Plantation Historic Site, located on James Island in the Charleston area.

As a bold and rare example, McLeod Plantation Historic Site declines to tell the well-known manicured story of the grand Old South and its plantations. Rather, it gives voice to all of the plantation’s residents, including those who lived there during and after slavery, and their efforts to realize freedom, justice and equality within a culture that denied them those rights.

War, Earthquakes & Hurricanes

McLeod Plantation Historic Site’s Main House and outbuildings have survived natural and man-made disasters. You will see those structures as you walk the grounds in this tranquil setting among Live Oak trees. But it’s the echoed voices of those who labored here, the enslaved and the free, which reveal the story of the past 150 years, not the dwellings.

Through the words and images of African Americans who came before us, capture a glimpse of life in Gullah communities formed by enslaved people. Learn of the troops, including the Massachusetts 55th Volunteer Infantry, made up mostly of black soldiers, who occupied this site during the Civil War. Hear the stories of how freed African Americans continued to face challenges after slavery ended.

See acres of fields and a gin house where sea island cotton was produced after William W. McLeod purchased the property in 1851. The last McLeod to live on the plantation, William E. McLeod, died in 1990 at the age of 104.

Walking in Their Footsteps

Take a walk through the main house to see where the McLeods and those they enslaved and attended to them lived and worked. You will see where Confederate officers debated tactics, where African American soldiers celebrated emancipation of their people, where freedmen’s families lived without whites present for a time, and where one of the last sea island cotton planters lived and died.

Visitors to the site are encouraged to take advantage of both guided tours and self-guided opportunities. For a more in-depth look during a site visit, or as a preview, guests are encouraged to download the McLeod Plantation Historic Site app for free to see images and hear the voices of those who lived there.

For more information on McLeod Plantation Historic Site, visit