— Bleak Hall Plantation Ice House © Brandon Coffey —
- Location Ocella Creek (a branch of the North Edisto River), Edisto Island, St. John's Colleton Parish, ACE Basin, Charleston County
Botany Bay Road
- Origin of name John Townsend was an admirer of Charles Dickens and named his plantation in honor the novel Bleak House (7).
- Other names Botany Bay Plantation
- Current status Together with Sea Cloud Plantation, Bleak Hall Plantation comprises the Botany Bay Wildlife Management Area.
— Scene at Bleak Hall Plantation © Brandon Coffey —
- 1749 Earliest known date of existence
James Bullock received a grant of 460 acres (8, p. 119).
- 1754 Bullock sold the land to Richard and Ann Jenkins (8, p. 119).
- ? Daniel Townsend II owned the property (8, p. 119).
- 1798 Daniel Townsend III began developing the plantation which he inherited from his father, Daniel Townsend II (2, p. 2-3).
- Early 1800s Daniel Townsend III built the house at Bleak Hall. It would later be destroyed by fire (8, p. 121).
- 1842 Daniel's son John inherited the plantation. John Ferrars Townsend was a political leader who served in the South Carolina Senate and the South Carolina House of Representatives. He also attended the Secession Convention as a delegate and signed the Ordinance of Secession (2, p. 3).
The Townsends also owned nearby Sea Cloud Plantation.
- ? Watch Island was a 500-acre island which become part of Bleak Hall. Today, the island is known as Botany Bay Island but is not part of Botany Bay Wildlife Management Area (8, p. 120).
- 1930s Dr. James Greenway purchased Bleak Hall Plantation. Near the same time, he also purchased Sea Cloud Plantation. Dr. Greenway then combined the two plantations, forming Botany Bay (9).
Since Botany Bay was created after the Civil War, it was never a true plantation, though it was comprised of true plantations.
- 1973 John E. Meyer owned Botany Bay (2, p. 3).
Meyer also owned White Hall Plantation.
- 1977 Meyer died, leaving the property to his wife Margaret.
- 2007 Margaret passed away. As stipulated by John Meyer, Botany Bay Plantation was deeded to the state of South Carolina upon his wife's death to be used as a wildlife perserve.
— Bleak Hall Plantation Smokehouse © Brandon Coffey —
- Number of acres 460 in 1749; 1,731 in 1860; 4,687 in 2012 (combined total of Botany Bay WMA, which also includes Sea Cloud)
- Primary crop Sea island cotton (2, p. 3)
- John Townsend hired a Japanese gardener to lay out and maintain an extensive garden (2, p. 3).
- Chronological list James Bullock (1749-1754); Richard and Ann Jenkins (1754-?); Daniel Townsend II (?-1798); Daniel Townsend III (1798-1842); John Ferrars Townsend (1842-?); Dr. James Greenway (1930s); John E. Meyer (?-1977); Margaret Meyer Pepper (1977-2007); State of South Carolina (2007-present)
- Number of slaves 273 in 1860 (6, p. 107)
— Ice House at Bleak Hall Plantation © Brandon Coffey —
- John Townsend constructed several outbuildings in the 1840s including an ice house, a smokehouse, and a tabby equipment shed which are still standing today (2, p. 2).
- The house was destroyed by fire (2, p. 3).
References & Resources
- Pictures of Botany Bay
- National Register of Historic Places
Nomination form - PDF - submitted in 1972
Photographs, architectural overview
- Debra Staples, Edisto's Hidden Treasure
- Edisto Island Preservation Alliance
- 30-15 Plantation File, held by the South Carolina Historical Society
- N. Jane Iseley and William P. Baldwin, Lowcountry Plantations Today (Greensboro, NC: Legacy Publications 2001)
- Claude Henry Neuffer, editor, Names in South Carolina, Volume I through 30 (Columbia, SC: The State Printing Company)
Order Names in South Carolina, Volumes I-XII, 1954-1965
Order Names in South Carolina, Index XIII-XVIII
- Charles Spencer, Edisto Island, 1663 to 1860
(Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2008)
- Information provided by Gretchen Smith with the Edisto Island Museum
— Drive at Bleak Hall Plantation © Brandon Coffey —
— Bleak Hall Plantation Smokehouse Door © Brandon Coffey —
- Botany Bay Plantation Wildlife Management Area
Botany Bay Road
Edisto Island, SC 29438
- Telephone: 843-869-2713
Website: Click here
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