Go for the spectacular gardens and a glimpse of antebellum plantation life.. The Background Set on 65 sprawling acres along the Ashley River, Middleton Place is the country's oldest formally landscaped gardens. Modeled after the palace at Versailles, the house and gardens were begun in 1741 by prominent Charleston politician Henry Middleton. For 10 years, 100 slaves worked seasonally to complete the gardens. Although the plantation's Main House burned down during the Civil War, a surviving wing was expanded and still stands today. Open daily for tours, the house is furnished with family possessions, including period furniture, portraits and silver.
The Appeal The lushly landscaped gardens are the main draw. Stroll along winding pathways past ornamental ponds, or get lost among perfectly manicured rows of hedges and flowers. A walk down to the water's edge affords lovely views of the Ashley River. The plantation maintains working stable yards, which offer a glimpse into plantation life. Coopers, blacksmiths, potters and carpenters offer demonstrations of their crafts.