McLeod Plantation Historic Site is not just a place for memorialization and a place of conscience, but a place where the transformation of conscience can occur.
Established in 1851 by William Wallace McLeod, Sr., as well as enslaved families such as the Dawsons, Forrests, and Heywards, McLeod Plantation bore witness to some of the most significant periods of our nation’s history, from chattel slavery and the Civil War, to Reconstruction and Jim Crow, to the Civil Rights Movement and beyond. The site was home to people, Black as well as White, until 1990. In 2011, the Charleston County Park & Recreation Commission purchased the property from the Historic Charleston Foundation, which had received the buildings and several dozen acres from 104-year-old William Ellis McLeod, the grandson of McLeod, Sr. The historic site is publicly owned and no longer affiliated with the McLeod Family.
Originally a 1,693-acre slave labor camp, the fifth largest of more than 20 plantations on James Island prior to the Civil War, today’s 37-acre McLeod Plantation Historic Site emphasizes the Gullah Geechee heritage of the majority of its residents. The site is not frozen in time, however, as interpretive and community activities are vibrant, dynamic, and constantly evolving, helping all who visit consider the influence of past events on modern-day challenges and opportunities. The original plantation was built on the riches of sea island cotton and on the backs of Black families whose work and culture are embedded in the Lowcountry’s very foundation. Today, it is a living tribute to the men, women, and children – and their descendants – who persevered in their efforts to achieve freedom, equality, and justice.
All of their stories – Black and White, oppressed and free – are given their due. After years of careful research and restoration, McLeod Plantation Historic Site invites you to explore the lives of people who, though nearly erased from history, shaped the complex heritage of Charleston as well as the United States.
For more information, including a schedule of interpretive tours and other activities, call 843-762-9514, or visit CharlestonCountyParks.com.