Negotiations move forward on McLeod sale

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – The Board of Trustees of Historic Charleston Foundation Wednesday night  unanimously approved a motion authorizing its executive committee to move forward with negotiations for the purchase of McLeod Plantation.

The Historic Charleston Foundation sold the property sold the plantation to a building arts college only to but it back. Then, under the leadership of former mayor Mary Clark, the town of James Island made a move on the property. That purchase was later abandoned after Clark lost her seat in a recent election. The College of Charleston had also stated interest in the facility, but lacking support of the Board of Trustees, that purchase also fell through.

Town officials on James Island suggested the Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission buy the property.

In September 2010, trustees of Historic Charleston Foundation issued a request for proposals for the purchase of McLeod Plantation by a deadline of Oct. 6, and bids were received in accordance with the proposal guidelines. HCF sought a buyer who could demonstrate  the financial means to restore and maintain the property, and a justified plan for the property's ongoing stewardship.

The 38-acre McLeod Plantation has a main house, five slave cabins and agricultural buildings that will require continual upkeep. Certain areas of the property will be designated "no build zones" where new construction is prohibited. The property was appraised within the range of $3.725 million to $4.191 million.

The parks commission emerged as the most likely candidate to buy the property after the unanimous vote in the commission's favor Wednesday night.

"In taking this action, the Foundation's trustees have remained true to their commitment to protect and preserve the architectural, historical and cultural resources of this invaluable historic site, while providing public access that will allow future generations to enjoy and learn from this unique property.  We look forward to working with the Parks and Recreation Commission in this regard," said HCF Executive Director Kitty Robinson.

In its RFP, Historic Charleston Foundation reserved the right to accept or reject any or all proposals submitted, as well as the right to further negotiate terms and conditions of the purchase to ensure the buyer's plans are consistent with the foundation's goal of protecting and preserving the property's architectural and cultural resources.

The historic buildings at McLeod comprise the most intact plantation complex remaining on James Island, including a number of important outbuildings that supported the plantation economy. The most striking buildings, due to their rarity, are the five intact slave dwellings and a praise house. The cabins are of wood-frame construction on raised masonry pier foundations with exterior end chimneys.

The original kitchen and dairy structures date from the early 19th century. The barn is a wood-frame structure possibly dating from the late 19th century. The gin house, a two-story masonry and wood-frame structure used to process cotton, was maintained into the 1930s.

McLeod's main house, c. 1854, serves as an example of Lowcountry plantation architecture and development. The original approaches to the house were oriented north to south from Wappoo Creek and east to west from the Stono River, mirroring the present-day oak allées.

The approximately 4,400 square foot main house is a two-story, wood frame structure with an attic.

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