JAMES ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - The Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission opened McLeod Plantation as a public historic site, for the first time.
The sprawling property is located at the corner of Maybank Highway and Folly Road on James Island.
The 37-acre historical site has deep roots in Charleston's history dating back before the Civil War. It features preserved buildings and homes, a massive live oak and a renovated dock on Wappoo Creek.
"The site dates back to really early Charleston history, possible as early as 1671," said Shawn Halifax, the Cultural History Interpretation Coordinator for CCPRC.
Visitors will now be able to go back in time, with access to plenty of resources. In the last four years, preservationists have worked hard to gather new information about the plantation. There are many informational makers posted throughout the site. The CCPRC has also created a free mobile app that includes an interactive map and even more information about the plantations many features.
The McLeod Plantation has preserved buildings like the McLeod's main home. It sits next to a massive 600-year-old oak tree.
There are also smaller homes where slaves, and then freed men lived, a cemetery, a cotton gin house where crops were processed and a dock at the Wappoo Creek.
"Our focus for visitors that come out to the site will be from 1851 to modern era 1990," said Halifax.
In 1851, William W. McLeod bought the sea island cotton plantation and produced unique cotton grown mainly in this region.
The crop was in high demand and used to make expensive products like silk, according to Halifax.
The McLeod Plantation changed hands several times once the Civil War began.
The plantation was a Confederate army headquarters, then controlled by the Union. In 1865, under the Union's control, the property was divided into 40-acre parcels and given to 38 freedmen, who were once enslaved on the land.
Soon after, the McLeod's regained the property. They lived on it until the last descendent, William E. McLeod, known as "Mr. Willie" died in 1990, at the age of 104. Up until his death, McLeod was renting out the small homes, that slaves once inhabited, to James Island residents.
When he passed away, the property was left to the Historic Charleston Foundation. In 2011, Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission bought it for $3.3 million dollars.
The preservation project is four years in the making and has cost the Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission $8,358,000, in total.
The preservationists hope the plantation will be a place where people come together and discuss the history that shaped our society today.
"Look at ways to improve how we live today based on some of the things that happened in the past, its kind of all interconnected," said Halifax.
McLeod Plantation will be open to the public Tuesday through Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. It's $10 for adults and $6 for children ages three to 12. Parking on site is free.