Charleston County Park & Recreation Commission

McLeod Plantation Historic Site Charleston Gateway Blog 2017

Planning a quick getaway to Charleston? You can visit the McLeod plantation historic site on James Island, just across the Ashley River from the historic downtown district. The former Sea Island cotton plantation has borne witness to some of the most significant events in Charleston’s history. During the civil war, a group of enslaved people from McLeod plantation escaped the bondages of slavery. Imagine the danger and uncertainty of their journey through enemy lines. Think of their joy, after the war, when finally free and starting a new life.

To assist their transition to freedom, the freedmen’s bureau established its James island headquarters at McLeod plantation. It reunited families torn by the ravages of slavery, performed legal marriages for couples previously denied the right, and provided schools for children to attend for the first time. Hear the stories of the freed people’s grandchildren, some, who fifty years later, still lived in the small slave dwellings. Knowledgeable tour guides share stories that bring to life the struggles, resistance, and perseverance of the enslaved and their descendants as expressed in the beautiful and resilient Gullah culture.

You can take advantage of guided or self-guided tours that feature nationally award winning exhibits. Explore beautiful oak allées and the plantation home that remained expressions of control and power well into the twentieth century. Head over to “transition row,” featuring houses built for the enslaved still lived in by descendants in 1990. Visit the cotton gin house, kitchen, and dairy, where some of the only work available for black women and men existed for decades following freedom. Each tour is so unique that visiting the site more than once is a must. Visit for more information and to plan your getaway to the McLeod plantation historic site.