As we round the corner of our fourth week, I look back on all the places we’ve visited, so far, with a fond appreciation. There is a wealth of wisdom to be gained from meeting new people and listening to their stories, but one of the most interesting ones we’ve heard to date has been from the Frampton House. The Frampton House, currently serving as the tourism center for the Lowcountry, is an old plantation home from the 1860s. Located on Low Country Lane in Yemassee, S.C., it's been converted into a museum and houses not only artifacts from the Antebellum period, but those from the early and mid-1900s, as well.
Its parlor serves as a historical display, while the rooms connected to it all highlight different aspects of the local history. They hold everything from military regalia and antique furniture, to classic movie props and traditional recipes. When Imelda and I arrived, we waited in the parlor until we were met by the Frampton House’s hospitality director. Her name was Lynn, and she greeted us dressed in full mourning attire. The gown was her own, a perfect replica of one that women from the time period might have worn. When asked about her choice in clothing, she explained so graciously that it was to honor the fallen soldiers of both the Union and Rebel armies, who had died in a bloody battle just yards away from where we stood.
The next couple of hours we spent touring the historical landscape of the location. She walked us through the customs and etiquette of the time, and even some of the day-to-day household goings-on. Aside from the parlor, the house has two other rooms on the first floor. In the Museum room, which boasts artifacts, old photos, displays, and interesting items from all around the county, I spent a good 30 minutes gathering footage of art and furniture that was uniquely South Carolinian—things I hadn't seen anywhere else. Lynn then led me over to the front hallway of the home. On the wall is a massive black-and-white map of the Lowcountry, but something about it seemed off. When I asked why the land had such strange patterns all over it, she explained that the map had been used by the Union army and had, in fact, been drawn in 1864, and stolen in 1865. She then told me the story of how a Union battalion of several hundred men had been forced to retreat by a tenacious bunch of Rebel soldiers, fewer than a hundred in number. Due to the former's unfamiliarity of the territory, their large numbers gave them no advantage in this particular battle. She brought history to life, as she moved her hand across the map, gesturing to the waterways the boats used and the paths the infantrymen took.
The final room on the first floor had a collection of jams, sauces, preserves, cookies, and salsas made from locally sourced produce and traditional recipes, along with books, hats, stickers, and other clothing items for sale. For a tourist coming to the Lowcountry for the first time, it's a bounty unlike any other. While showing us around the house and the grounds, Lynn also was kind enough to tell us a bit about her own life and how she came to her position at the house. She was born near Cromwell, England and came to America as a young woman. Although the fast pace startled her initially, she's settled in nicely. Historical preservation and reenactment were areas she'd been involved in before coming to America, but when she was approached by the Frampton House director about working there as a guide, she immediately said no. It took him several attempts, both over the phone and in person, to convince her to come by, she said. The moment she walked into the house, however, she knew she had to stay. The "house had spoken to her," she told me.
Normally, on my own, I wouldn't have sought out a museum or former plantation house as a place to kill a few hours. In fact, I rarely visit them. Surprisingly, however, the Frampton House made a profound impact on me. The rich history it holds and the passion of the people working there give it such an inviting atmosphere, and if not for the demands of the job, i could have spent the rest of my afternoon there listening to Lynn. If you haven't dropped by for a visit, you most definitely should. You might be surprised by what you learn.