In its place there now stands a grandiose and, to my eye, rather vulgar Colonial-Revival style house that was constructed in 1935 by the estate’s then owner, a Canadian named Thomas Stone.
Far more interesting than the house, which I studiously avoided photographing other than in soft focus (second image), were the nine original slave cabins, which date from 1790 – 1810.
Built to house the slaves who picked the plantation’s cotton crop, these simple, brick-built structures are located outside the walled and gated compound on which the main house stands.
Built of red brick with simple wooden shutters, with no glass in the window frames, I can imagine these cabins must have been chilly and damp in winter and sweltering hot in the steamy Southern summers.
One of Boone Hall’s signature features is the Avenue of Oaks (lead image). Planted in 1743, the two parallel lines of oak trees took more than a hundred years to meet above the dirt road that runs for three quarters of a mile from the entrance to the plantation to the gates of the main house.
I had been inspired by many beautiful images of these oak trees that I had seen by Charleston-based photographers, Kate Silvia and Mark Wickliffe and was keen to photograph them myself. But, on the morning I was there, the bright sun and cloudless sky cast a harsh, contrasty light onto the oak trees and imprinted deep shadows on to dirt road below. How I would have preferred a cloudy day, with soft, diffuse light to show the trees at their best.
This wasn’t the image I had been dreaming of creating but it was the image I captured on the one day I visited Boone Hall Plantation.
(click on an image to enlarge it)