Bleak Hall Plantation Outbuildings

4 mi. SE of Edisto Island off SC 174, Edisto Island, South Carolina


Bleak Hall Plantation Outbuildings, Cubicle Building-Right Oblique

South Carolina Department of Archives and History

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Though the main house of Bleak Hall Plantation was destroyed by fire, the three remaining outbuildings, probably constructed in the 1840s by John Townsend, are excellent representatives of the Gothic Revival architecture utilized in the construction of this plantation. Particularly noteworthy is the structure and design of the perfectly preserved icehouse with its mock tracery windows and door and the high gabled roof with triangular dormer. A second outbuilding, a rectangular equipment shed, is of tabby construction with a high wooden gable roof covered with cypress shingles. The third outbuilding, a cubicle of tabby construction, was probably used as a smokehouse. John Townsend was born at Bleak Hall in 1799. Inheriting the plantation from his father, Townsend became well known as an advanced agriculturist. He was one of the largest planters of sea island cotton in the state and won many prizes for its quality and length. Bleak Hall cotton was highly valued for lace making in Belgium and France. The gardens were also renowned, the remains of which surround the outbuildings. John Townsend employed a Japanese gardener to lay out and care for the elaborate and exotic gardens. Townsend was also a political leader, serving in the South Carolina House of Representatives and Senate, as a delegate to the Secession Convention, and signer of the Ordinance of Secession. Listed in the National Register March 7, 1973. - SCDAH

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on March 7, 1973
Reference number
Areas of significance
Politics/Government; Architecture; Agriculture
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction; B - Person
Property type
Historic function
Secondary structure
Current function
Secondary structure
Period of significance
Significant year
ca. 1840
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 3

Update Log 

  • August 18, 2014: Photo imported by Michael Miller
  • July 10, 2014: Updated by Michael Miller: Added "Description"