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Monday, December 08, 2008

USA: Plantation Houses

I have a thing for old houses. I love to tour them, even though I must admit that they sometimes get repetitious. Most are either from the Revolutionary War period or Civil War era plantations, so styles tend to be similar.

I'm always struck by how small most of the places are. Many plantation houses bear no resemblance whatsoever to Tara or the other homes depicted in Gone With the Wind. They have more in common with farmhouses than grand estates.

Preserved plantation houses tend to occur in clusters, like the string that runs along the James River in Virginia. Shirley Plantation is one of those, surprisingly small, but unusual in that it is still occupied and is still operated as a working farm. The farm is the oldest continuously operating business in the United States. Maybe that is why it didn't seem particularly old, even though it predates some of the other mansions that seem like a true step into the past.

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