Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.

Boone Hall Plantation, Mount Pleasant, S.C.

On of our stops during our Charleston, S.C., trip was Boone Hall Plantation and Gardens in Mount Pleasant, S.C. It still produces vegetables and fruit, which can be picked out various Pick Your Own fields or bought at the plantation’s market on Long Point Road.

We ate lunch at the market after our visit. It’s well worth the trip!

Shot of Boone Hall.

Long driveway to the plantation.

The tour only takes you through two rooms in the home. That was a disappointment, but our guide was entertaining and knowledgeable.

I don’t remember what she’s talking about here, but our tour guide was knowledgeable and entertaining.

Afterward, we headed to the slave cabins located to the right of the home. There were artifacts and educational videos located in each cabins. The videos and artifacts focused on certain aspects of plantation and slave life: church, family, work, basket weaving, etc.

There were nine cabins with artifacts and displays.

My favorite was the presentation of Gullah culture.

The docent (I guess that’s what you call these types of guides) provided information about Gullah culture, language and songs.

I also enjoyed speaking with the woman making and selling the famous Charleston baskets.

Gorgeous Charleston baskets were sale at one of the cabins.

The flowers in the formal garden located in front of the plantation was meticulously kept and it was fun walking around the beautiful flowers.

Someone picked these flowers and displayed them on the plantation’s front porch.

Some more beautiful flowers.

Exchange and Provost, Charleston, S.C.

Our last stop on Charleston’s Museum Mile was the Exchange and Provost Dungeon.

To the right is our tour guide. An animontronic figurine is to the left.

The tour provides a lot of historic info about the city, pirates, George Washington’s visit and the city’s part in the American Revolution.

Down in the dungeon, you’ll find animontronic figurines that’ll tell stories about the prison and building. On the way to Charleston, we met a couple who used to volunteer as pirates and other characters at the Exchange. Now that the museum uses mechanical storytellers, there’s no need for real people, except for the lone tour guide.

This is a well with water and fake rats located in the dungeon.
It’s supposed to show the horrid conditions prisoners had to stay in.

I think that is unfortunate because it would be neat to talk with various people about the building and its history. I’m sure providing more than one volunteer would offer a greater depth of knowledge about the building than one tour guide and prerecorded machines could provide (though our guide was very knowledgeable).

Still, this is a good stop along the Museum Mile.

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Nathaniel Russell House, Charleston, S.C.

The Nathaniel Russell House was the second stop on our tour down Charleston’s Museum Mile.

This is another merchant’s town home and is built in the Federalist style. We visited this home with combined admission to the Aiken-Rhett Home (see prior post).

Of course, like the Aiken-Rhett House, we were not allowed to take any photos inside. Though it was raining, we did get a couple photos of the gorgeous gardens behind the home.

It would not stop raining!

Another good stop along the Museum Mile.

Aiken-Rhett House, Charleston, S.C.

On our tour of the Charleston Museum Mile, we visited the Aiken-Rhett House.

This home was built in the 1820s and is an excellent example of town homes during this period.

This home was built by merchant John Robinson and later sold to William Aiken Sr., another merchant. Aiken’s son, William Aiken Jr., later became a U.S. representative and S.C. governor.

The Rhett name comes from Aiken Jr.’s daughter, Henrietta, and her husband, Major A.B. Rhett, who raised their family in the home. (History from the Historic Charleston Foundation’s website.)

Like many historic homes, we were not allowed to take photos inside. We did, however take photos of the courtyard, stable and other structures behind the house:

This is the back of the home.

One of two outhouses. Very elaborate for a toilet!

Courtyard behind the home.
Slave quarters is to the right, which includes a kitchen and rooms for the inside servants. 

Stable and carriage house across the courtyard from the slaves’ quarters.
I believe more slave quarters were above the stables, as well.

You should definitely make this one of the places to visit in Charleston. You can combine admission with the Nathaniel Russell House, which will be my next post.

Museum Mile, Charleston, S.C.

A good way to see the historic area of Charleston, S.C., is to walk along the Museum Mile.

This historic walking tour (self-guided) is a great way to squeeze in as many museums and historic sites as possible. A majority of the sites are located up and down a mile-stretch of Meeting Street. But the Museum Mile’s map will also take you to homes and buildings down some side streets, all within walking distance.

For many of the sites admission to one historic home or building will get you a discount into another property. So plan you tours wisely!

We only had one, rainy day to visit so we decided on visiting Aiken-Rhett House, Nathaniel Russell House and the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon. Admission to the Aiken-Rhett House and Nathaniel Russell House are $10 each or $16 to visit both.

If we’d had more time, I would have loved to visit the Edmonston-Alston House and the Gibbes Museum of Art.

I’ll share photos and info about the homes we did visit in future posts, so stop back by to check ’em out!

West Virginia Penitentiary, Moundsville, W.Va.

After visiting Grave Creek Mound and a quick lunch in the parking lot, we walked across the street for a 2-hour tour the former West Virginia Penitentiary. A former maximum security prison, it was closed in 1995.

View of West Virginia Penn from across the street on top of Grave Creek Mound, Moundsville, W.Va.

The tour guide explained to us the culture of the prison: how long inmates were out of their cells, what they ate, what they did during the day, where they took showers, how shanks were made, etc.

She also told us stories about riots, murders within the walls of the prison, poor eating conditions and more.

It was eye-opening and scary. Everyone should tour a prison. You’ll never want to visit again. You’ll be scared straight.

Here’s a photo tour:

Throughout the prison you could see peeling paint, dimly lit halls and spaces.
On this wing, first and second floors were separated by fencing.
This area was created as a family room were family could visit with prisoners. Like these paintings on the wall, prisoners (who had privileges) painted scenery throughout the prison and can be seen in places like the dining hall.
We got to check out the inside of the cells. Many had broken toilets and beds and writings and paintings on the walls. A lot of the doors were missing metal where inmates had broken off pieces to make shanks.
The guide told use about poor conditions when rats would come through the sewers and bugs were found in the mashed potatoes.
This is the gate leading to the yard for higher level inmates. They were separated into 2 yards. Three inmates were not allowed into the yard with other inmates. They were let out in the middle of the night.
You can see the fencing for the yard in the middle. The blue buildings were used for the industrial shop where inmates made products.
This yard was used for minimum risk inmates. They spent a lot of time out here playing cards, exercising and doing other activities.
This chapel is found in the yard (seen above).

These are some shanks made from everyday materials, such as a fork and toothbrush. The tour guide said all inmates had shanks or weapons to protect themselves.
Some more shanks.
We visited a room at the end of the tour that housed several artifacts including the shanks, an electric chair used in executions and news articles about riots, executions and murders within the prison walls.
This is a letter a warden received from mass murder Charles Manson. He requested to be relocated from California to West Virginia, where he was born and raised. The warden didn’t honor the request.
An article about Manson’s request to be moved to the penitentiary.

Upcoming September events

Lots of events are coming up that are on my radar.

Carroll County (Va.) Fair
First off, this weekend is the Carroll County (Va.) Fair. I think Chris has to work some this weekend to cover it, so we might actually go.
(Please do not use any photos without permission.)
A girl pets a pig at the Carroll County Fair/Photo by Christopher Brooke
I’ve never been to the fair although it’s been held for a few years now. It’s really small, so there’s not much to it. But maybe it’s supposed to be small. I’ve never been to a county fair, only a state one. And state fairs are huge.
The county fair is held at the Southwest Virginia Farmers Market, right off I-77 at exit 14.
Hillsville’s Labor Day Flea Market and Gun Show
Next weekend is Hillsville’s Labor Day Flea Market and Gun Show. I know many, many people probably already have this on their calendars.
I wonder if this will be the largest flea market yet. I swear tents started popping up along U.S. 58 a week ago.
I’m looking forward to seeing if the market expands this year and seeing if the sidewalks and streets will be hard to move through because of the thousands of people wandering around booths.
Blue Ridge Parkway’s 75th
One of the biggest events I’m looking forward to is the Blue Ridge Parkway’s 75th Anniversary Festival, Sept. 10-12.
I know there have been several events throughout the year, but this will be the official celebration.
I want to go to the Blue Ridge Music Center in Galax, Va., and Cumberland Knob for the activities. I’m really looking forward to seeing Dr. Ralph Stanley at the music center that Saturday. I gotta see that man perform before he dies! (I’m not a big old time or bluegrass music fan, but I do enjoy some of it.)
If you go to the music center, check out the trail that winds up and down the peak behind the stage. It’s a nice, short hike.
You can check out the schedules and more information of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation’s 75th Anniversary website here.
Hillsville’s Downtown Celebrations
Don’t forget about Hillsville’s downtown celebrations, featuring arts and crafts, classic car cruise-in and beach music.
I wrote about that here. The next concert is Sept. 11.
Chateau Morrisette’s Black Dog Wine and Beach Music Festival
Chateau Morrisette, 287 Winery Road SW, Floyd, Va., will continue its music festivals Oct. 9 with the Black Dog Wine and Beach Music Festival. The winery is located at Milepost 171.5 off the Blue Ridge Parkway.
We visited the winery Aug. 14 for the Black Dog Wine and Jazz Festival. The day’s music featured salsa, jazz and Caribbean music, courtesy of Beleza Brazil and Los Gatos. It was so much fun!
The price of a ticket gets you admission, free wine tasting and a free wine glass. It’s a pretty good deal.
The glasses of wine we got this year at one of the Chateau’s wine and jazz festival./Photo by E.A. Seagraves
We also enjoyed lunch in the winery’s restaurant. I had a delicious lamb chop, couscous and asparagus. The dessert was a heavenly chocolate cake with espresso ice cream. We enjoyed the meal with a bottle of Chateau’s Blackberry Wine, probably one of our favorites.
The next events are Oct. 9 music festival will feature The Embers and Key West Band.