Home of Archibald Rutledge, McClellanville, SC ©Author Adventures
Santee River ©Author Adventures

Archibald Rutledge, First Poet Laureate of South Carolina

South Carolina’s first poet laureate, Archibald Rutledge (1883-1973), an English teacher who published books and poetry in the mid-20th century, lived at Hampton Plantation for nearly a century before it was donated to the state and opened to the public. Visit its website, Hampton Plantation State Historic Site, for information that will help you plan your visit to this former rice plantation in McClellanville, approximately an hour’s drive north of Charleston. (This will feel somewhat remote. McClellanville has a population of approximately 500 residents, as compared with nearby Charleston, which has around 137,000.)

Rutledge is a descendant of a dynasty that owned the immense property since the 1700s. It passed through the family from pre-Revolutionary War times, through the Civil War, up to 1971. Rutledge, an avid outdoorsman, wrote about the house in his book Home by the River.

In 1791, George Washington famously “saved” a tree that still stands in front of the house and bears his name.

“Washington Oak” ©Author Adventures

The mansion is not visible from the highway. Free parking is in walking distance. With its grand architecture and surrounding natural beauty, this property seems tailor-made for filming. Walk around the house to the back for a view of the peaceful river that runs behind it.

A path that includes a small family cemetery and a nature trail is on one side of the house while a kitchen house, now home to a rare species of bat, is on the other side.

The state does not charge to walk the grounds of this large property. Restrooms are available near a parking area. A guided tour of the mansion is offered for a small fee on particular days. Check the website for days and hours open. A long rocking bench and rocking chairs on the porch welcome your visit.

Before you go, check out a free ebook of Rutledge’s poetry, Under the Pines, at https://books.google.com/books.

Watch a video of our visit here: https://youtu.be/K8CQvOnuKYY.

This is the third stop on our South Carolina Author Adventures Trail.

Rutledge porch ©Author Adventures

Patricia Smart