Commerce and Culture
THE HEART OF THE LOW COUNTRY
Midway between Charleston and Myrtle Beach lies Historic Georgetown, South Carolina’s third oldest city. First colonized by the Spanish as early as the mid-1500’s, the area was home to the first European settlement in America that included African slaves. Although this settlement didn’t last, the heritage and culture brought by the African slaves would lead to a local economy that would shape South Carolina and the surrounding areas for centuries to come. As the years passed and plantations became the prevailing wind that pushed the economy forward, indigo and rice cultivation led Georgetown to become the largest rice exporting seaport in the world.
Feeding A Nation
ENGINEERING AN ECONOMY
Leveraging the agricultural prowess of slaves from Senegal and other African nations, the plantations of Georgetown grew, cultivated and harvested over half of the total rice crop in the United States in the mid-1800’s. Alongside indigo, these exports would thrust Georgetown’s local economy into overdrive. This allowed plantations to grow, encouraged settlers to migrate and created commerce for Georgetown, Charleston and it’s surrounding neighbors. Much of the food, culture and general success of the low-country area that we experience today, can be traced directly back to the skills and knowledge brought to the area by the slaves.
CAROLINA SEAPORT SINCE 1729
Sitting quietly on the third floor of the Rice Museum, rests one of the oldest pieces of maritime history in the United States. Today, the Brown’s Ferry Vessel, along with the Fresnel lens from the North Island Lighthouse, join countless other historic nautical artifacts on display less than one city block from one another. Although Georgetown’s rich history is rooted in agriculture, it’s by no means land-locked. As South Carolina’s second largest seaport, vessels come and go daily delivering fresh seafood, provisions and industrial materials to the low-country area. So grab a seat on the bench by the bell tower and let the waves of history crash over you… the Wooden Boat Show will be here before you know it.
THE LAST WINNOWING HOUSE
On the grounds of one of the most tranquil bed and breakfasts in the deep south, stands a piece of agricultural architecture that is the last of it’s kind. Once one of the country’s most prolific rice plantations , Mansfield Plantation is widely recognized as one of the most well-preserved properties of it’s type in America. Many of the structures, dykes and rice cultivation relics can still be found on the nearly 1,000 acre property, just as they were as early as 1718. Arguabuably the most compelling piece of Carolina gold era ephemera, is the last winnowing house still standing on Earth. Used by slaves to prepare harvested rice for export, this historic monument reminds us all of the labor and ingenuity that built the low country, one husk at a time.