The William Seabrook House, Edisto Island

Designed, tradition says, by James Hoban, who was architect of The White House, the William Seabrook house is a view into the age of Edisto’s Sea Island Cotton days. General Lafayette visited for a feast and the fascinating and beautiful Fanny Kemble wrote about her visit here and to Edisto, enroute to Georgia in 1838. 

William Seabrook House, built 1810, Hoban architect

 

The William Seabrook House, also known as the Seabrook or the Dodge Plantation, was built about 1810 on Edisto Island, South Carolina, United States, southwest of Charleston. It is located off Steamboat Landing Road Extension, close to Steamboat Creek about 0.7 mi from Steamboat Landing, and was named to the National Register of Historic Places on May 6, 1971.

Today the current owners of Seabrook are graciously allowing the public to visit, with tickets (long sold out) from the Historic Preservation Society of Edisto Island. This weekend is the annual Tour of Homes to benefit of the Museum. So, don’t miss the congregation-cooked gumbo and ribs (and bread pudding!) at both historically black churches, the Allen AME Church on Botany Bay Road, and Historic Old First Baptist on Highway 174, whose facade was getting fresh white paint just yesterday! Lunch is served at both churches and is open to the public without reservations.

William Seabrook was the wealthiest of Edisto’s Sea Island cotton planters. Thanks to Tony L. Smith at Seabrook Online, who wrote “By 1805, young William Seabrook, was experiencing success with cotton production on Edisto Island. European demand for West Indies Pima cotton was booming, and Seabrook seized the opportunity. This particular variety of the plant, which came to be known as Sea Island cotton, was characterized by long, silk-like fibers, and was highly sought after for both its strength and softness. The barrier island setting along the South Carolina coast provided the perfect balance of sun, rainfall and humidity for the plant to thrive.

Seabrook is credited with being one of the first planters to cultivate black marsh mud into the soil. The saline mud, which Seabrook harvested along the banks of tidal creeks, helped to hold moisture in the soil. It also contained microscopic marine organisms which worked well as a natural fertilizer. As a result, his harvests produced a quantity and quality that enabled his wealth to grow as wildly as his cotton.

By 1810, William Seabrook owned plantations on Edisto, Wadmalaw and Hilton Head Islands. His shipping operations ran routes between his plantation grounds and major trading ports in Charleston and Savannah. To augment his operations, he launched a ferry service that followed the same routes his captains had used to transport cotton. The ferry provided quick transportation for travelers moving between the two key cities, and proved to be yet another successful Seabrook enterprise.”

William Seabrook was married to Mary Ann Mikell, with whom he had five children. After her death, he married Emma Elizabeth Edings and they had six children. After he died in 1836, his widow lived in the house until 1854 or 1855. The house was purchased by J. Evans Eddings, until around 1875 when it was sold. At some point, Judge Smith purchased the house. Later, the house was bought and restored by Donald D. (D.D.) Dodge.

 

William Seabrook House, Edisto Island, SC

The William Seabrook House in 2010

 

At the end of the Civil War, the Sea Islands below Charleston were abandoned to the Union Army forces. The house was used for staff headquarters and provost. After the war ended, freed slaves temporarily took refuge in the house. (My note: today a list of slaves from 1860 can be traced, for those searching Edisto family roots, thanks to the wonderful work of Footnote.com)

This house has been described as a classic plan for houses on Edisto. It is an Early Republic or Federal style, two and one-half story frame house on a raised basement. It has a gabled roof with dormers. It has a double portico with pediment with a semielliptical fanlight, columns, and arched entablature. Double stairways rise to the first floor portico. The main door has sidelights and a semielliptical fanlight. The windows on the main and second floors are nine over nine lights. The house originally had four rooms on the main floor divided by a central hall that extends to the smaller garden portico. Double stairway to the second floor go up a landing over the garden portico door.

The day is spectacular on the island we call Paradise. It is 72 degrees and sunny! Come over for the drive down National Scenic Highway 174 ( The drive I call ‘church’ for in such beauty how can you not see God, I say) Have some fried chicken and Gullah soul food and rock and roll with the best musicians on the island at Old First Baptist.

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I was called to be an artist. And as an old old midwife said to me "If the Lord wants you to do something, you won't have no good luck' til you do." So, here I am, sharing what I love, longing to illuminate the work of art, which is everywhere.

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Posted in architecture, art, Arts & Culture, beauty, Charleston South Carolina, creativity, Food, Gullah, music, religion, South Carolina History, spirituality, travel
7 comments on “The William Seabrook House, Edisto Island
  1. pinkney says:

    Neat house. Peter’s Point looks a lot like it, but it had a double portico. Size, windows, most everything is about the same.

    C…. The Sea Islands were not abandoned; they were evacuated. That’s what Charles Spenser says. It’s how the planters got their plantations back after the wauh. Many of the bog houses in Charleston were forfeited for taxes, but many planters held on to the source of their wealth. They didn’t have any other place to go and made the case that they had been evacuated.

  2. Wonderful. I will have to visit this one. We haven’t made it over to Edisto Island yet. Soon!

    • Stephanie! Thanks so much for this. It was indeed a grand house, and this was the first time ever that it was open to the public (400 tickets). Magnificent art, books, light, gorgeous grounds. Edisto wants you to come visit soon:) Come see Botany Bay, and walk the little island! Cheers, Charlotte

  3. [...] The William Seabrook House, Edisto Island « Charleston through an Artist's eye [...]

  4. isla says:

    Fun to stumble upon this. Donald D Dodge was my great grandfather, i used to spend every Easter here with family. Brings back some amazing memories to see it today.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you so much for the visit! What a grand place – my favorite of all the historic Edisto houses!

    • Ron Berry says:

      Ilsa do you remember going on a coon hunt one Easter? We were the Berrys and lived down the road from the plantation and brought our dogs. Another time me and My brothers and I were invited over for a cookout I must Have been 11 or 12 years old. Remember the Butlers that were caretakers. If you ever read this my email is berrypatchdad@hotmail.com. Ron Berry.

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Welcome to my blog about the Lowcountry of South Carolina, a place proud with beauty, history and art. Sometimes we feel a call, to be, to go, to do. I was called to be an artist, and as an old midwife from Alabama said, “If the good Lord wants you to do something, you won’t have no good luck until you do it.”

So here I am writing about what I know, about the 'under glimmer' as the poet Basho, says, the way I have learned to see, to notice. I am inspired by, and talking about the history and art and culture of this place that has called me to herself. By the ancestors.

My background includes a degree in fine arts from a small private college in Florida, and before that, four years of all girls' boarding school in Asheville. I worked as a professional photographer, helped my children grow up, and now and I love seasoned things, good food, better conversation, beauty, my beloved and beautiful Italian Greyhound, Beau. Moved by the sacred places and stories of this beautiful historic land called the Lowcountry, I am here in spirit and I hope to infect you with my love of this place.

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