Beech Island in Aiken County, South Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
State Historic Site
About Redcliffe Plantation State Historic Site Redcliffe Plantation was the home of James Henry Hammond (1807-1864) and three generations of his descendants. Hammond whose political career included terms as a United States Congressman, Governor of South Carolina and United States Senator, was perhaps best known during his lifetime as an outspoken defender of slavery. In an 1858 speech to the United States senate he coined the famous phrase "Cotton is King." Governor Hammond was a successful cotton planter and designed Redcliffe to be an estate for relaxation, entertaining and agricultural experimentation. The 1859 Greek revival mansion became the physical and emotional center for four generations of Hammonds. The Governor's great-grandson. John Shaw Billings (1898-1975), known for his position as managing editor of Time & Life magazines, restored Redcliffe's mansion in the 1930s.
South Carolina State Park Service Mission
To encourage people to discover South Carolina's state parks by providing resource-based recreational and educational opportunities that emphasize the conservation, protection and interpretation of the state's natural and cultural resources.
Redcliffe Plantation State Historic Site Mission Statement
To preserve the historic structures, collections and landscape
Erected by South Carolina State Park Service.
Location. 33° 24.921′ N, 81° 51.953′ W. Marker is in Beech Island, South Carolina, in Aiken County. Marker is on Redcliffe Road. Touch for map. Follow Hammond Road and signs to the parking lot. Marker is at or near this postal address: 181 Redcliffe Rd, Beech Island SC 29842, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 10 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Historic Church (approx. 0.6 miles away); Downer Institute & School / Downer School, 1924–1986 (approx. 0.6 miles away); Beech Island Agricultural Club (approx. 0.6 miles away); Beech Island Baptist Church (approx. one mile away); Silver Bluff Baptist Church (approx. 1½ miles away); Savannah Town / Fort Moore (approx. 3 miles away); Signal Corps Aviation School (approx. 5½ miles away in Georgia); Jefferson High School / Rev. Austin Jefferson, Sr. Storm Branch Baptist Church (approx. 5.7 miles away); Jacksonville School / Jacksonville Lodge (approx. 6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Beech Island.
Regarding Redcliffe Plantation. Current status – In 1973 the property was deeded to the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism. It is open to the public.
1857 – Construction of house began – supervised by Hammond's sons.
1859 – House completed.
1886 – Hammond's son Harry removed the porches and replaced them with a one-story, 12-foot wide L-shaped porch that extended along the south and east sides of the house. The stairway was placed at the eastern end of the south porch.
1930 – House restored by John Shaw Billings.
1973 – Property donated to the state.
National Register of Historic Places:
Redcliffe ** (added 1973 - Building - #73001671)
Historic Significance: Event, Architecture/Engineering, Person •
Architect, builder, or engineer: Berckman,Louis •
Architectural Style: Greek Revival •
Historic Person: Hammomd,James,Henry,et al. •
Area of Significance: Social History, Agriculture, Conservation, Literature, Architecture, Landscape Architecture •
Period of Significance: 1875-1899, 1950-1974 •
Owner: Private •
Historic Function: Agriculture/Subsistence, Domestic •
Historic Sub-function: Agricultural Outbuildings, Single Dwelling •
Current Function: Domestic •
Current Sub-function: Single Dwelling •
Also see . . .
1. James Henry Hammond. James Henry Hammond (November 15, 1807 – November 13, 1864) was a politician from South Carolina. (Submitted on July 26, 2008, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.)
2. Redcliffe. Redcliffe is representative of the architectural styles in the South during the early nineteenth century. (Submitted on March 15, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
3. Redcliffe Plantation – Beech Island – Aiken County. (Submitted on March 15, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
4. Redcliffe Plantation State Historic Site. "Cotton is King!" Those words resounded through Congress and then the nation in a fiery speech by South Carolina Sen. James Henry Hammond in the years leading up to the Civil War. (Submitted on March 15, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
5. Plantation workers are humanized. A program at Redcliffe Plantation State Historic Site puts names (Submitted on March 15, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
6. Redcliffe State Park. Redcliffe Plantation State Historic Site is a state park in South Carolina, USA. (Submitted on March 15, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
7. Redcliffe: The Double Life of a Plantation Popultation. Life on a 19th-Century plantation was good and not so good. (Submitted on January 9, 2011, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
8. The Hammonds of Redcliffe by Carol K. Rothrock Bleser. Book preview. (Submitted on January 9, 2011, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
9. John Shaw Billings Photograph Albums, 1875-1939. The series of photograph albums document the time that John Shaw Billings (1898-1975) and his extended family spent at the Redcliffe plantation in Aiken County, South Carolina. (Submitted on January 9, 2011, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
1. James H. Hammond
As a congressman before his election as governor, James Hammond had made headlines by advocating the death penalty for abolitionists to keep their ideas out of the state and away from slaves.
Hammond theorized that slavery was appropriate for
— Submitted March 15, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.
Redcliffe, begun in 1857 by James Henry Hammond, is a two-story house of wooden construction. Originally, the house stood nine feet above the ground. Double decked porches were built on all four sides. Only the front and back porches had steps down to the ground. Large French windows in all rooms opened onto the porches, upper and lower. n enclosed cupola or observatory, consisting almost entirely of windows, was built on the roof between the two chimneys.
The first major change came immediately after the Hammond family moved into the house. Chilling winds swept through the open space under the house. To control the chill factor, the under area was bricked around the nine feet walls. Later the basement was partitioned off with brick walls into four rooms to match the other floors. Brick soon replaced with sand floors.
In 1886, another major change altered the appearance of Redcliffe. The flat open porches had been damaged greatly, due to the lack of proper drainage. Harry Hammond, son of the builder, removed the upper porches bringing the main steps down from the corner of the new single piazza. This charge marred the classic symmetry of the house. In July 1901, the observatory on the roof was removed as a fire hazard. A widow's walk replaced the former cupola.
A young landscape architect, Louis Berckman, from Belgium, planned the grounds at Redcliffe. An avenue of magnolia grandiflora was planted. The open fields near the house were used for scientific experiments with vineyards and fruit trees.
Redcliffe is representative
The builder of Redcliffe, James Henry Hammond, was born on November 15, 1807, at Stony Battery, Newberry District in South Carolina. In 1825, he graduated from the South Carolina College. After reading law in Columbia, South Carolina and Augusta, Georgia, he was admitted to the bar in 1828. He was elected to the United States Congress in 1834, several years after his marriage to Catherine Fitzsimons. Hammond was elected Governor of South Carolina in 1842. During his first two terms as Governor, he secured the transformation of the arsenal at Columbia and the Citadel into military academies. He became a United States Senator in 1857. In the troubled days before the War Between the States, Hammond realized the importance of cotton to the agricultural South. "Cotton is King" he declared in the Senate chambers. Hammond was greatly interested in the improvements of farming methods. In the 1840s he promoted the use of marl. Ahead of his time in social awareness,
The present owner of Redcliffe is John Shaw Billings, a descendant of Hammond. Educated at Harvard, Billings later went to Time, then Maneging Editor of Life. At one time, Billings was called the editorial prime minister of Time/Life, Inc. An important figure in American journalism, John Shaw Billings had a front seat in American history. (Source: National Register nomination form.)
— Submitted January 9, 2011, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.
Categories. • Notable Buildings • Notable Persons • Notable Places • Politics •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on July 26, 2008, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 3,874 times since then and 78 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on July 26, 2008, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. 2. submitted on July 27, 2008, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on July 26, 2008, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. 7. submitted on August 3, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 8, 9. submitted on July 26, 2008, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. 10. submitted on March 15, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.