Established in 1851, McLeod Plantation has borne witness to some of the most significant periods of Charleston’s - and our nations - history. Today McLeod Plantation is an important Gullah/Geechee heritage site carefully preserved in recognition of its cultural and historical significance. The 36-acre plantation is a peaceful, moss-draped oasis sheltered from the hustle and bustle of James Island, just across the Ashley River from historic downtown Charleston. The grounds include a riverside outdoor pavilion, a sweeping oak allée, and the McLeod Oak, which is thought to be more than 600 years old.
It is a place like no other, not frozen in time but vibrant, dynamic, and constantly evolving, where the winds of change whisper through the oak trees and voices from the past speak to all who pause to listen. McLeod Plantation was built on the riches of sea island cotton - and on the backs of enslaved people whose work and culture are embedded in the Lowcountry’s very foundation. It is a living tribute to the men and women and their descendants that persevered in their efforts to achieve freedom, equality, and justice.
All of their stories - black and white, enslaved and free - are given their due. After years of careful research and restoration, McLeod Plantation Historic Site invites visitors to embark upon an in-depth exploration of the lives of those people whose stories are essential to understanding Charleston’s complex past and helped shape who we, as a nation, are today.
Tour the homes and compare the McLeod family home with those built for enslaved families
Learn about daily life and the relationships among the men, women, and children who lived and worked here before and after slavery
Study the cultivation and importance of sea island cotton
Gain insight into the plantation’s strategic importance during the Civil War and the role of the free black Massachusetts 55th Volunteer Infantry in emancipating enslaved people
Examine the influence of the Freedmen’s Bureau at McLeod Plantation and throughout the South
Trace the emergence of Gullah Culture in the Lowcountry
Explore worship and spirituality in the lives of McLeod Plantation’s residents
Draw parallels between the changing relationships among McLeod Plantation’s residents and in American society during the 20th century
See how people dramatically changed the natural history of the plantation’s landscape through time
The struggle for freedom—personal, cultural, and political—enacted over the centuries at McLeod Plantation provides new insights to anyone interested in American history.