The Antebellum South

Another view of the slave homes

Horton Grove slave homes (2 frame panoramic)

About the images: The interior shots used existing light only. I liked the way the daylight was streaming into the windows as well as being a good representation of what it would have been like back in the hey day of the Plantation where no artificial light was available.   Several are multi-frame images – noted in the captions – I love the challenge of  doing them. I find when I want a wider view than my lens will allow or a wider angle lens is going to cause too much distortion, multiple frames, for me, is the answer. It requires anywhere upwards of 2 frames shot vertically or horizontally depending on the scene and merging them in Photoshop.  I shoot them hand-held (against recommendations but I can be lazy when it comes to carrying my tripod) overlapping the frames about 1/4 per frame keeping the same focal point, focal distance and plane throughout.

It’s one of those places I kept thinking  “I need to go & check it out”. It rained all day and cleared a little so I grabbed my camera, hopped in the car and finally drove to the plantation. Historic Stagville is the site of what once was the largest Antebellum plantation complex in North Carolina, consisted of 30,000 acres and 900 slaves at its pinnacle.

What remains today at the site is the original house built in 1787, the remains of the kitchen behind the house, the foundation of  a domestic slave cabin, a family graveyard, and a couple old tobacco and storage barns.  Other than the docent in the information center I was the only person on the property. Well, me and possibly a few ghosts. Off I went on my unguided exploration.

The Bennehan House

The Bennehan House

Surprised to find the door unlocked, I spent most of my time inside the main house…

Main Entrance to the house

Main Entrance (2 frame panoramic)

The main living room

The main living room (4 frame panoramic)

There’s something inviting and intriguing about an old house that’s been standing for 225 years. I love the craftsmanship of the simple, elegant old architecture,  and I wonder about the people who built it and lived their lives within its’ walls (if only those walls could talk – cliché, I know).  Alone inside and lost behind my camera, the world of an 18th century plantation came to life.

One of the many fireplaces

One of the many fireplaces

Another view of the fireplace adjacent to the dining room

Another view of the fireplace adjacent to the dining room

I’m not going to lie,  knowing I was the only one in the house hearing creaks and noises was a little spooky. I really wouldn’t have been surprised to see a ghost or two drifting by.  Wandering through the rooms on the first floor I could almost smell the fire in the old fireplace and hear the family gathered around the dining table, clinking glasses and discussing their day.

Looking in to the dining room

Looking in to the dining room

My favorite little nook in the house was this small office space. I can picture Mr.or Mrs. Bennehan sitting at the old desk, quill in hand doing paper work or writing letters.

18th Century office

18th century home office

Up the narrow creaky stairs I found an attic space off one of the bedrooms. A little spooky with only the natural light,  it looks like a good place for Norman Bates. Or sitting and daydreaming out the window getting away from the hustle & bustle of plantation life.

attic space

attic space

The largest of the bedrooms upstairs, I think the master suite.

Upstairs bedroom

Upstairs bedroom (2 frame vertical panoramic)

I didn’t get to everywhere on the main grounds and definitely want to go back and explore more.

One of the remaining outbuildings behind the house

One of the remaining outbuildings behind the house

Thorn Locust growing on the property

Thorn Locust growing on the property

Just down the road is the portion of the property known as Horton Grove. It includes another estate house and several slave cabins.

“Constructed between 1851 and 1860, Stagville’s two-story, four-room timber-frame quarters are rare survivors of an unusual form of enslaved homes.  Throughout the South, a typical enslaved house would have been a one-room, one-story structure. The design of the Horton Grove slave houses employed brick nogging, which not only provided insulation from the heat and cold, but also deterred rodent infestation, which could have created health problems.  Family records reveal the design of these buildings was a deliberate attempt on Paul Cameron’s part to provide a healthier living environment for his slaves.”  (

Slave house

Slave house

Enslaved Quarters

A wider view of the slave quarters (2 frame panoramic)

Small structure behind the main house, maybe a chicken coop?

Small structure behind the main Horton Grove house, maybe a chicken coop?

There’s so much more left to explore at Stagville and Horton Grove. I wasn’t able to get inside these buildings this time and The Great Barn down the road I’m dying to get inside of and photograph!

What I’m Listening to:

A Change Is Gonna Come Al Green  (Classic!)

Take me to The River  Al Green, B.B. King, Lenny Kravitz, Cheryl Crow (I love, love , love this performance!)

Me And Mr. Johnson Eric Clapton  (If you haven’t heard this tribute to Robert Johnson, you’re missing out!)



3 thoughts on “The Antebellum South

  1. Pingback: A Look Back | imagine-foto

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