The historic plantations of Charleston and elsewhere in the Lowcountry face a multitude of challenges balancing that history against modern sensibilities. How does the “Gone with the Wind” romanticism balance with the harsh realities of slavery? And that’s before you get to twenty first century economic realities and the impact the pandemic has had on tourism patterns.
The Post & Courier recently had an article focusing on Magnolia Plantation but also dealing with the broader issues.
“Across the South and beyond, as Americans increasingly reckon with a history stained by slavery and segregation, historic sites like Magnolia are striving to figure out how to remain relevant, how to balance beauty and truth-telling, how to attract tourists and advance an honest narrative.
They are also trying to manage a cascade of suggestions and criticism, from all quarters. Some White tourists have complained about what they perceive as an overemphasis on slavery. Some Black visitors have argued that the cruelty of slavery is not emphasized enough. Others want such institutions to expand their historic interpretation to include aspects of Western colonialism, West African kingdoms before the advent of the transatlantic slave trade and Black contributions to agriculture, foodways, politics and art produced in slaveholding regions.
Magnolia and other old plantation sites, such as Middleton Place just to the west and Drayton Hall just to the east, want to strike an appropriate balance. Many of the White planters who managed these sites were historical figures themselves and worthy of acknowledgement. The Rev. John Grimke-Drayton revitalized Magnolia’s romantic gardens, which today are famous around the world for their camellias and azaleas.”
To read the entire Post & Courier CLICK HERE. Note: if you’re not a P&C subscriber, you’ll encounter a paywall.
For more background on Magnolia Plantation CLICK HERE
Joseph McGill (a past DIHS speaker) conducts a Slavery to Freedom tour at Magnolia. McGill is featured in a recent article in House Beautiful magazine. CLICK HERE TO SEE THAT ARTICLE.