77th annual Tours of Historic Plantations & Homes combines history with beauty

1 Mar

77th annual Tours of Historic Plantations & Homes combines history with beauty

The public is invited to explore beautiful plantations, historic homes and scenic church properties during a two-day event along South Carolina’s Hammock Coast®.

The 77th annual Tours of Historic Plantations & Homes, organized by the Women of Prince George Winyah Church of Georgetown, will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, April 5, and Saturday, April 6. In addition to the tours, the event includes an Afternoon Tea from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Winyah Indigo Society Hall; and a Bazaar & Bake Sale from 9 to 5 p.m. both days in the parish hall.

Chicora Wood Plantation house is included in the 76th annual Tours of Historic Plantations and Homes. (Photo courtesy of Women of Prince George Winyah Church)

Mary Boyd, a member of the event committee, said that she is excited about the Plantation and Home Tours in 2024.

“This is our 77th year for the Prince George Plantation Tours, begun in 1947,” she said. “We have grown from a handful of plantations back then to 25 sites for 2024. We have 3 historical churches and 22 plantations and town houses.”

She explained that many of them are open houses but several are grounds only, where people cannot enter.

“We have one new townhouse that has never been of the tour before (the Elkin Baum House at 722 Prince Street) and the rest are all sites important to the history and heritage of Georgetown,” Boyd said.

The plantations on the tour are premier examples of Colonial and 19th-century architecture, as well as good examples of the culture of the day, Boyd said.

She said this event is a great opportunity to share the history of this area.

“It is the privilege of the Women of Prince George Church to be able to share the story of an area that was the wealthiest county in the entire United States in the 1850s for the growing of rice,” Boyd said. “The vast wealth accumulated here was through the expertise of the enslaved Africans who bought their knowledge of the indigo and rice industries. Because of the affluence, Georgetown was a center of knowledge and culture among the aristocratic society.”

Tickets for the event, which are $60 per person for one day and $110 per person for both days, will be on sale the day of the event. All money raised by the Tour is allocated to community outreach and the preservation of the historic Price George Winyah Church buildings.

“The success of the Tour has made a difference in the lives of the poor, the friendless, and the needy in our community, which continues to be our prayerful aim in this endeavor,” Boyd said.

Prince George Winyah Church is hosting its 76th annual Tour of Historic Plantations and Homes. (Photo by the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce)

Prince George Winyah Church is a historic Anglican church in Georgetown. It is one of the oldest continuous congregations in South Carolina, and the church building is one of the oldest churches in continuous service in South Carolina. In 2021, it celebrated its 300th anniversary.

Founded in 1729, Georgetown is the third oldest city in South Carolina after Charleston and Beaufort. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the region became home to many rice planters, who once exported so much rice that Georgetown County was once the wealthiest county in the United States. Though rice is no longer a major export for the region, many of the plantations, town houses, and gardens left by the planters remain and have been preserved by Georgetown’s present-day residents.

Boyd said in addition to historic properties, this year’s tour will focus on the contributions of enslaved Africans for rice cultivation. She said many people may not know that Africans were brought to the area because of their knowledge and expertise about rice production, from creating rice fields to building equipment like rice trunks for flooding the fields regularly and more.

“When people on the tour see rice trunks and hand-carved moldings in the interior of these beautiful homes, all designed by enslaved Africans, they should remember the unsung heroes of that time period,” Boyd said.

Tour sites

Each spring, the Prince George Winyah Church Women hosts the Tour of Historic Plantations and Homes. Visitors have a unique opportunity to tour many of the historic plantations, town houses, and gardens that are not publicly accessible at any other times. Tour sites for the 2023 Tour are listed below. Because organizers rely on the generosity of private homeowners, tour sites are subject to change without notice. Sites with an asterisk (*) only allow tourgoers on the grounds and not inside the home.

The Black River House is on this year’s tour. (Photo provided)

Friday, April 5

  • Prince George Winyah Church
  • Santee Gun Club/Coastal Reserve
  • Rice Hope Plantation
  • Estherville Plantation
  • Belle Isle Plantation
  • Jane Scott House
  • Crafton-Kerwon House
  • Elkin Baum House
  • Henry Cuttino House
  • Samuel Marsh House
  • Friendfield Village at Hobcaw Barony (grounds only)
  • Winyah Indigo Society Hall

Saturday, April 6

  • Prince George Winyah Church
  • Prince Frederick Summer Chapel
  • Exchange Plantation
  • Black River House (grounds only)
  • Mansfield Plantation (grounds only)
  • Arcadia Plantation (grounds only)
  • All Saints Parish, Waccamaw Old Church (grounds only)
  • Litchfield Plantation
  • Greenwich Plantation Kitchen House
  • Thomas Bolem House
  • Charlotte Kaminski Kindergarten & Home
  • Joseph Kaminski House
  • Winyah Indigo Society Hall

​People who participate in the tours can also take part in the other events planned during the weekend.

Oyster Roast & Pig Pickin’

April 5, 2024 | 6 p.m. | Georgetown Historic District

Immerse yourself in Lowcountry culture by adding a delicious Lowcountry feast to your tour package. The Men’s Ministry at Prince George will be serving roasted oysters and pulled pork for guests. The event is scheduled for Friday, April 5, 2024, at 6:00 p.m. at a residence located in the Georgetown Historic District. Because the tour will be held at a private residence, the address will only be provided to those who purchase tickets. Tickets for this event must be purchased in advance and in conjunction with a tour ticket. A cash bar will be available.

An Afternoon Tea will be offered at Winyah Indigo Society Hall in Georgetown. (Photo by the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce)

Afternoon Tea

April 5-6, 2024 | 3:30-5:30 p.m.

Each afternoon during the Tour, the Prince George Winyah Church Women host an afternoon tea at the historic Winyah Indigo Society Hall located at 509 Prince Street, Georgetown, SC. The women will serve homemade refreshments to our tour guests. The Tea is complimentary with the purchase of the day’s tour ticket.

Food & Art Bazaar

April 5-6, 2024 | Open to the Public

During the Tour, stop by the Prince George Parish Hall located at the corner of Highmarket Street and Screven Street to browse the art, baked goods, and other donated items for sale. All items are donated and proceeds support outreach missions and the preservation of our church buildings.

Organizers ask people to allow a full day for the tour. They recommend wearing attire and shoes suitable for standing for long periods and for walking in natural Lowcountry terrain. Out of respect for the homeowners, do not wear shoes with heels, as the heels can damage floors and rugs. Buses are not permitted. While the tour will proceed rain or shine, individual tour sites may close if the road quality is affected. In the event of inclement weather, please check in at the Prince George Parish Hall.

After the tours conclude, the public is invited to join the Prince George Winyah congregation for Sunday worship in the Anglican tradition. The church offers three Sunday services at 8 a.m., 9 a.m., and 11 a.m. For more information about each service, visit the church website.

For more information about the Tours of Historic Plantations and Homes, click here.

By Clayton Stairs / tourism manager for the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce and South Carolina’s Hammock Coast®

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