Mansfield Plantation, established in 1718 on the banks of the Black River, covers nearly 1,000 acres in Georgetown County and is recognized as “one of the most architecturally intact rice plantation in South Carolina.” It is on the National Register of Historic Places and was once owned by Wilbur Smith of Columbia. It is now owned and operated by John Rutledge Parker and his wife Sallie Middleton as a bed and breakfast. (Note: Portions of The Patriot movie with Mel Gibson were filmed at Mansfield.)
Most of Mansfield’s rice buildings remain as they were in the old plantation days. Rice was first threshed by hand labor; then, in later years, by a steam-powered mill. Chaff was separated from the rice in the winnowing barn raised off the ground on posts.
There were separate buildings for storage of crops, food preparation, food storage, housing animals, and sheltering equipment. Most labor was first done by slaves before the Civil War then by sharecroppers or tenants. Slaves constructed the original main house, agricultural buildings, and the one- room wooden frame slave cabins with clay brick chimneys.
The overseer’s house was near the slave cabins. He held keys to all buildings, including slave houses, and kept records of crop inventories. He was also responsible for the health and punishment of slaves.
The kitchen was a separate brick building near the main house. It contained two rooms: one for cooking and storage and one served as the cook’s residence. Foodstuffs, salt, sugar, flour, and cornmeal were kept in a separate pantry.