South Carolina once had thousands of slave cabins, but only a few hundred are left, said Joseph McGill, a Charleston historian who founded the Slave Dwelling Project eight years ago to draw attention to them.
McGill said he is particularly concerned about one in poor condition outside Columbia. International Paper owns about 2,000 acres that once were Kensington Plantation. An earlier permit process led the company to restore the plantation’s dilapidated 12,000-square-foot Italianate mansion, but the slave dwelling about a mile away has been ignored.
The surviving slave cabin-freedman dwelling was constructed from two 1855 slave cabins that were joined together to make a larger home for share croppers who worked the property after the Civil War. They are all that remains of the original 40 slave dwellings here.
“This is not unusual,” McGill said. “That’s usually the way these things work — the money is put into the nice, beautiful architecturally significant house. This is an opportunity to right that wrong.”
International Paper has treated the cabin for termites and placed a tarp over it to offer some protection from the elements, spokesman Tom Ryan said. It also has hired a contractor to analyze what work needs to be done.
For more information, contact: The Slave Dwelling Project - Changing the narrative...