Fired Up Friends
Young contest winner, local historian share spotlight for evening with ‘the Friends’
By Charlie Morrison
Sometime this summer the Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission (CCPRC) will bring to a conclusion Phase I of their project to stabilize, refurbish, and ultimately provide public access to James Island‘s McLeod Plantation. With its official public opening looming, James Island’s many history buffs are collectively abuzz with anticipation. Such was the tenor inside the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) Auditorium at Fort Johnson last week, where the Friends of McLeod gathered for “After the Big Gun Shoot: the Civil War on James Island: 1861-1865,” a lecture and discussion led by local historian and author Doug Bostick.
Though Bostick was touted as the keynote speaker, it was 12-year-old Makaila Fields who got the evening off to its bright start. Fields, a sixth-grader at the Apple Charter School on James Island, was on hand to receive her first place prize for winning a recent Friends of McLeod-sponsored essay contest. Paul Hedden of J&G Tours sponsored the contest, and he was also present to hand Fields her $100 winnings check in person.
Following the ceremony, Bostick took the stage, addressing the more than 50 in attendance for more than an hour. His lecture spanned the history of James Island in its scope, from the pre-war plantation days through the Civil War and on into Reconstruction. He dedicated a substantial amount of his presentation to a close examination of James Island’s many antebellum plantations, and how they were forever affected by the war.
Bostick put the his brightest spotlight of the evening on McLeod Plantation and the McLeod family, often pairing his keen observations with colorful anecdotes and humorous bits of McLeod lore that had even the most stoic of attendees laughing out loud. For all its color, however, Bostick’s lecture was first and foremost educational, something the Friends are keen on. With the completion of Phase I of the McLeod stabilization project, the Friends want to keep the message of education front and center.
Though much work remains at McLeod, the plantation is in a far safer place than when the CCPRC purchased it last February from the Trustees of the Historic Charleston Foundation. Meadors Construction, with guidance provided by The Jaeger Company and Glenn Keyes Architects, has performed a number of much-needed repairs to the complex’s main house. Perhaps more importantly, many of the outer buildings have been stabilized. Scaffold-like structures have been erected around some of the outlying buildings, including the barn, gin house, garage and privy, to ensure their continued stability as repairs proceed.
The most significant items yet to be addressed before the CCPRC considers a public opening are McLeod’s many dilapidated roofs. The roof of the main house cannot be repaired, and needs replacement, as potentially do others. No timeline has been set, as the architectural team is still determining the true extent of the damage and how stable the various foundations and structures sitting atop them truly are. The CCPRC hopes to begin planning Phase II of the process this summer.