The majestic Boone Hall Plantation of Charleston holds the distinction of being the most photographed plantation property in America. It's easy to see why, given the spectacular gardens, vast horse pastures, and historical architecture of the main house and its surrounding buildings. Open year-round to visitors, the property has been deemed "a must see stop on any trip to Charleston" by NBC.
"Boone Hall is proud to present more than 330 years of history on a daily basis," says the plantation's Director of Marketing, Rick Benthall. "Visitors can explore the unique low country Gullah culture through one of-a-kind live presentations. The critically acclaimed Black History in America exhibit is on display in nine original brick slave cabins. These cabins are listed on the National Register of Historic Places."
Boone Hall has been open to the public since 1956, but its history stretches back a few more centuries to 1681 when Englishman Major John Boone, arrived in Charleston to establish a plantation near Wampacheone Creek. "In 1743 his son Captain Thomas Boone planted live oak trees, arranging them in two evenly spaced rows," explains Benthall. "This spectacular approach to his home became a symbol of Southern heritage. It would take more than 200 years for the trees to meet overhead to form the present-day scenic corridor that welcomes visitors."
After many years of being owned by descendants of the Boone family, the land was purchased in 1935 by Canadian Thomas Stone. He wanted a grander-style home, so the previous main house was knocked down and replaced with the Colonial Revival-style home with white columns that greets visitors today. Mr. Stone also revitalized the pecan growing section of the farm. Today, the land produces strawberries, tomatoes, peaches, and other product from spring through fall and keeps Boone Hall operating as one of the country's oldest farms.
Crop fields, wetlands, creeks, ponds, and pastures made up the 738 acres of the property. A variety of tours are conducted nearly daily, including a 40-minute open-air coach tour that remains a favorite. The plantation also offers a tour of Slave Street, where the slaves' living quarters still stand, which is accompanied by a historical talk about the lifestyles of the slaves that worked on the property.
Boone Hall is also a popular hosting spot for several special events throughout the year, including the Lowcountry Oyster Festival, held every January, and the Taste of Charleston event, where local restaurants and chefs offer food samplings each September.
"Boone Hall is no stranger to Hollywood, either" says Benthall. "Included in the resume of productions shot on location at the plantation is the very popular movie The Notebook, and North and South, one of the top miniseries in television history." TV shows including American Idol and Wheel Of Fortune have also been filmed at Boone Hall.
Boone Hall remains a living icon of the antebellum era south, and worth a visit when one is in the Charleston area.