Harbor View Road, Harbor View House, and Summer House Island – James Island, South Carolina
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Brief History of Harbor View Road, Harbor View House, and Summer House Island
The brief article below was given to SCIWAY by noted James Island historian and author Doug Bostick. It first appeared in the January 2004 issue of Island Update, a monthly newsletter published by the James Island Public Service District.
Harbor View Road takes its name from an old James Island plantation that still exists. [Editor's note: The plantation house, called Summer House, was torn down in 2005, about a year after this article was written.] In 1869 Annie McLeod, heir to one-third of McLeod Plantation, married James Frampton, the son of a Beaufort-area planter who signed the South Carolina Ordinance of Secession. When McLeod Plantation was divided in the late 1870s, Annie received the land on both sides of what is now Harbor View Road, from Folly Road to James Island Creek.
On the part of this property that borders James Island Creek and overlooks Charleston Harbor, James and Annie Frampton built their home, which they named Harbor View. Though enlarged and altered, Harbor View still stands today. You can see it behind the white stucco wall across the road from Mimi's Cafe. [Editor's note: Mimi's Cafe closed after this article was published and the building was purchased by Crew Carolina. It burned in 2009.] Harbor View, Mimi's Cafe, and the houses behind the cafe are all located on a part of James Island called Summer House Island. This area is named for the summer homes built there long ago by the McLeod, Frampton, Ellis, and Freer families. Incidentally, the correct name of the road, the school, and the house is Harbor View, not Harborview.
Detailed History of Harbor View Road and the Harbor View House
The detailed article below is second in a series of columns which chronicle James Island's history. The columns were contributed by local historian Doug Bostick, who wrote the series between 2001 and 2004.
Each day thousands of cars travel Harbor View Road. Other than Folly Road, Harbor View is perhaps the busiest road on James Island. Where did it get its name? Sure, while crossing James Island Creek, it does have a magnificent view of Charleston Harbor, though it's not named for that view.
Two years ago, a local historical society conducted a survey of 100 James Island residents drawn from the phone book at random. The only qualifier was that they lived on a street that was named for an historic person, place, or event. Only 5% of those polled had any recognition that their street name had some historic connection to the island. We've all become jaded with the developers' use of terms like "plantation." We're also quickly losing our connection to our own past. To disconnect from our local history is to pass by the rich lessons, stories, and heritage that our own history begs to share with us. We hope to help reverse that trend in some small way through this column.
The name "Harbor View" comes from a 19th-century home built on James Island Creek. To solve this mystery, we need to trace the lives of two early James Islanders, James Frampton and Annie Mikell McLeod.
James Frampton was born in 1850, the son of Colonel John Edward Frampton and Harriet Johnson Hay. Their family plantation, The Hermitage, was one of the most prosperous plantations in Prince William's Parish, Beaufort District. In addition to being a successful planter, Colonel Frampton served as a State Senator, a delegate to the Secession Convention in 1860, and, in the Civil War, as a Lt. Colonel on Governor Aiken's staff.
While growing up in the Lowcountry, James and his family would often visit the Lawton family at Lawtonville, also in the Beaufort District. It was at Lawtonville that James first met Annie McLeod. The Civil War, of course, disrupted many lives. The Hermitage was burned by Sherman's army. As the Frampton family evacuated to Columbia, they still found themselves in harm's way. Eventually, the family made their way to Charleston after the war.
Annie Mikell McLeod was born in 1852, the daughter of William Wallace McLeod and Susan Martha Lawton. Just a year before Annie's birth, W. W. McLeod purchased a sizable plantation on James Island from the Parker family. The McLeod story on James Island is one of great success and great tragedy. The McLeods experienced great success in their planting, quickly turning McLeod Plantation into a most prosperous venture. However, Annie's mother died in 1859. In 1860, her father remarried only to have his second wife, Martha Stiles Royall, die in August 1861. Of course, during that time the first shots had already been fired upon Fort Sumter.
William Wallace McLeod, like most white male James Islanders, enlisted to serve the Confederacy. Despite finding himself in numerous engagements in which most in his unit were killed, W. W. McLeod survived the war and was part of General Joe Johnston's army in North Carolina that surrendered after Appomattox. While returning home to his beloved James Island, W. W. McLeod made it no further than Moncks Corner, where he caught pneumonia and died, leaving three orphaned children in the care of their uncle. Annie, now 13 years of age, was living at the Lawton home on Rutledge Avenue in Charleston.
McLeod Plantation was left to Annie and her brother and sister in her father's will. Mr. McLeod's will provided for a division of property that included the division of slaves as well. Since there were no longer slaves to be divided, the will was left with an inequitable distribution of property. The family could not occupy their home since it was being used as a headquarters for the Freedman's Bureau and had over 4,000 freed people living on the grounds awaiting grants of land, food, and clothing.
While in Charleston, Annie became reacquainted with James Frampton and this led to their marriage in 1869. The McLeod and Frampton family regained control of the plantation by 1870. The settlement of the will, however, became hopelessly bogged down in the court system. By 1870, Annie Frampton, W. W. McLeod, II, and Rena McLeod drew straws for the division of property. Annie drew for the site that included the family plantation, but she felt the family home should rightfully go to the son and she traded property with William. This left Annie the property on the southeastern side of McLeod Plantation. (This property today is home to Country Club II subdivision and Harbor View Elementary School continuing to James Island Creek on Harbor View Road.)
The court finally approved the division of property, as settled by the three siblings, in 1879, leaving Annie and James Frampton 178.45 acres of property. Their tract included Summer House Island, which is today home to condos and Mimi's Restaurant. On that portion of the property, Annie and James chose to build their family home which they named "Harbor View."
Despite the many challenges of the Reconstruction era, James and Annie Frampton settled into a life of prosperity. In all, they had 14 children, nine of whom lived to adulthood. They planted one-third of their land in sea island cotton. The remaining land was planted in food and feed crops. The Framptons raised sheep, hogs, and bred fine horses. Varieties of melons were a specialty of James Frampton. In a newspaper interview, their son, William McLeod Frampton, was quoted saying of his father, "He ground his own grits and corn meal, made his own syrup, cured his own hams. We always had plenty of milk, butter, eggs, chickens, and turkeys. There was precious little we had to buy from the store." James and Annie Frampton won premiums at the fairs for sea island cotton, purebred hogs, and cane syrup. James also operated a cotton gin and bought and sold cotton and cottonseed on a large scale.
In 1917, James and Annie Frampton conveyed the Harbor View House and Plantation to Isabel Frampton, wife of their son, William McLeod Frampton. James and Annie moved into Charleston to live out their days on Rutledge Avenue. William McLeod Frampton continued to plant cotton and was appointed as Charleston County's first agricultural agent. This was the first of many county, state, and federal agricultural positions held by Mr. Frampton. In 1946, he moved from Harbor View into Charleston, living on Colonial Street. The plantation was subdivided and the family home conveyed to W. McLeod Frampton, Jr. By 1950, Harbor View was sold to someone outside the family, ending the Frampton presence at their beautiful Harbor View.
Summer House Island has been forever changed. On a dirt road behind Mimi's Restaurant, the summer homes of the Ellis and McLeod families still stand. The Harbor View home remains today, though it has been altered a number of times since it was built in 1879. Once sitting amongst fields of cotton and a vibrant plantation, today Harbor View is virtually surrounded by condos. The old Frampton home, now shielded from the public by a stucco wall, still enjoys the harbor view.
Harbor View Update – House Torn Down by Developers to Make Way for Condos
Sadly, the Harbor View House no longer exists. It was torn down in 2005, just a few years after Mr. Bostick wrote the above articles. The following update is provided by Carol Jacobson, Vice Chair for Programs and Special Events for Friends of McLeod.
The Harbor View House was torn down in 2005 by Noel Mermer, publisher of the Charleston City Paper, in partnership with Lawrence (Laurie) Thompson, long-time aide to Charleston's Mayor Riley. Their original intent was to use the land as a location for more condominiums.
The house served as a beloved landmark for the people of James Island, and its destruction was met with sadness and disbelief. The City of Charleston justified its decision by saying the house "was not on a major route." When asked how Harbor View Road could NOT be a major transportation corridor, the answer was that the developers had put in a street so therefore Harbor View House was not actually located on Harbor View Road anymore. Because of this loophole, city council did not need to approve its destruction.
The land, renamed "Point Verona," is currently offered for sale.
More Stories about Harbor View House
Special thanks to Tom Delaney, who contributed the following stories. Tom is part of the McLeod-Frampton family.
An interesting story that my uncle Creighton (pronounced "Cray-ton") Frampton, who grew up at Harbor View, told me was in the great hurricane of 1911, he along with the rest of his family weathered the storm in the house. Many of the black residents who lived nearby needed shelter and ended up at the house. During the eye of the storm, a creosote pole was drifting by and two of the black men swam out to the river to get it. As they were paddling back to shore the eye passed and blew them out to sea. One died and the other washed ashore on Sullivan's Island about a week later (in terrible condition) and it took him a few weeks to make it back to James Island. When he did return, he arrived just in time for his own funeral. He went to the church where the funeral was held and his mother fainted at the sight of him.
My grandmother told me that the house was originally built to be a summer retreat to escape the sweltering heat of McLeod Plantation and that when there was just a dirt road leading to the house, they called this the road to the Harbor View house. She felt that it caught on and everyone called it that. Over the years the name of the road became Harbor View Road. She had her driver's license when she was 12 years old and always referred to James Island as "the country."
One last story was one day when Creighton was riding his horse into town, he stopped at a canteen to wait for a ferry to cross one of the rivers (not sure which one). There was a rooster that looked like it was about to drop dead right in front of him. He noticed a bulge in its craw and thought he had to do something so he pulled out his pen knife and cut the craw open and pulled out the blockage. He then sewed it up with a needle and thread that he got at the store and he released the bird. Next thing you know the rooster was running around cock-a-doodle-dooing like nothing was ever wrong – from then on they called him Dr. Frampton.
He told me the oak tree on the harbor side of Harbor View Road between the connector and where the Summer House was destroyed was referred to as the Hanging Tree – apparently someone was hung from the tree many years before but he did not know who. It isn't that big of a tree but he said it was the same size as when he was young.
Just thought I would pass these on because I have been meaning to write a lot of these stories down anyway. I couldn't believe that they would tear down a historical house like that. Where was the oversight? If I had known it was in such danger, I would have at least taken comprehensive pictures of it. I have no idea when the house was originally built but I'm sure it predates many of the protected houses downtown.
Pictures of the Harbor View House
Here is a picture of the remains of the Harbor View House. Does anyone have a picture of it before it was destroyed? If so, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Mr. Delaney would like to have a copy of it, and we would love to share it with our readers as well. Thank you!
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