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National Historic Landmark Middleton Place
South Carolina
Middleton Place
Middleton Place

Location: Dorchester County, on an unimproved road just east of S.C. 61, about 13 miles northwest of Charleston.

This mansion, of which only the south wing stands today, was the birthplace and lifelong home of Arthur Middleton (1742-87). About 1738 his grandfather had built a 3-1/2-story brick house at the site. Some 3 years later, Arthur's father began laying out the surrounding gardens that have since won international fame as Middleton Place Gardens. More than 100 slaves labored for a decade to complete the 45-acre gardens and 16-acre lawn. In 1755 the mansion was enlarged by the addition of two two-story brick flankers, or detached wings, on the north and south sides of the original structure, for use respectively as a library-conservatory and guest quarters.

During the War for Independence, British troops pillaged the residence and despoiled the plantation. In 1865, as Union soldiers approached during the Civil War, the slaves set the mansion to the torch, which left only the walls standing. In 1868 William Middleton erected a roof over the south wing, the least damaged section of the three, and reoccupied it. In 1886 an earthquake felled the ruined walls of the north wing and central section.

In the 1930's the two-story, brick south wing was renovated and enlarged. The major additions, both two-story brick and executed in an 18th-century manner, were a service wing along the main axis of the wing at the south end; and, on the west side, a right-angled entrance wing, containing a vestibule and stairway, and constructed with a stepped and curvilinear gable roof to match those on the ends of the original south wing. A third addition in the 1930's was a one-story brick porch on the east, or river, elevation. All the brickwork is Flemish bond, the shutters are paneled, and a louvered circular window decorates the gable end of the new entrance wing. The interior chimneys are three in number. A parlor, dining room, and living room are located on the first floor of the original south wing and three bedrooms on the second. The interior finish dates from the mid-19th century, but many of the furnishings are original 18th-century Middleton pieces.

To the east and north of the present house and ruins of the central block and north wing are the famous gardens, which have been enlarged and perfected over the years. They extend from the Ashley River and the paired butterfly lakes at their foot west toward the residence and beyond in sweeping terraces. To the northwest of the house, in another 18th-century formal garden, is the family graveyard, containing the mausoleum of Arthur Middleton.

The estate comprises 7,000 acres. In 1974, about 110 acres, embracing the gardens, burial plot, plantation house, and re-constructed outbuildings, were donated to the Middleton Place Foundation, a nonprofit organization, that has preserved them and is open to the public.

Middleton Place
The south wing (1755) of Middleton Place, the only 18th-century section of the mansion that has survived. (National Park Service, Snell)

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Last Updated: 04-Jul-2004