Hobcaw Barony – Georgetown, South Carolina

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More than 16,000 acres comprise the pristine research reserve in Georgetown known as Hobcaw Barony. The native Waccamaws who originally inhabited the land called it “Hobcaw,” meaning “between the waters.” The name references its location between the Winyah Bay, which is fed by several surrounding rivers, and the Atlantic Ocean. The land was issued to John Lord Carteret in 1718 as a land grant from King George, I; however, Lord Carteret remained in England, never to see the land, and sold the undeveloped property in 1730. The acreage was then subdivided into multiple rice plantations.

Hobcaw Barony

Graham Ladd of Pawleys Island, 2013 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

In 1905 New York financier Bernard W. Baruch – originally of Camden – began purchasing most of the original Hobcaw tract for use as a hunting reserve and winter retreat, along with some surrounding land. Baruch called his land holdings Hobcaw Barony, which by definition means a tract of 12,000 acres or more. When he bought the property, many former slaves from Friendfield Plantation were still living and working on the property. They had not left after Emancipation, and Baruch allowed them to stay as employees. He also updated the former slave cabins in which they lived; these had not seen substantial change since before the Civil War.

Hobcaw Cabin

Graham Ladd of Pawleys Island, 2013 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Baruch’s daughter, Belle, began purchasing portions of her father’s property in 1935 and established Bellefield Plantation. By 1956 Belle owned all of Hobcaw Plantation. The Baruchs had several modern structures built for themselves and for the estate’s employees and even restored the chapel that belonged to Friendfield Plantation, which was still in use as an African-American church. Friendfield Village, as the former slave street of Friendfield Plantation came to be known, consisted of the church, slave cabins as well as modern cabins built there by the Baruchs, as seen above, and a school house for the children of employees. The school house also operated as a medical dispensary. By 1937 the International Paper plant had opened in Georgetown, and a bridge across the Winyah Bay meant that people could leave the area. Many of the Baruchs’ employees did just that, and by the 1950s Friendfield Village had been abandoned.

Belle Baruch had managed Hobcaw Barony for three decades prior to her death in 1964 from brain cancer. She left the property to a foundation to be preserved as an outdoor laboratory and research site to be used by schools and universities from South Carolina. Belle Baruch’s legacy continues through the Belle W. Baruch Research Foundation, which owns and manages the educational wildlife refuge. Today the barony stands at 16,000 acres.

Hobcaw Barony is listed in the National Register:

(Bellefield Plantation) Hobcaw Barony is a 15,680-acre tract that includes buildings, structures, landscape features and sites associated with the continuing use of the land from ca. 1730 until 1943. Individual components, such as buildings, roadways, cemeteries, canals and embankments, reflect the use of the property over time. They illustrate the evolution of lower Waccamaw Neck from the development of rice plantations, through the antebellum period of concentrated rice cultivation, to the post-Civil War conversion of former plantations to winter resorts where natural and cultural landscapes were conserved for duckhunting and entertainment.

Hobcaw House was built in 1930, and retains a high degree of integrity of design, materials, and workmanship throughout. Its architecture is a good example of the popular Colonial Revival influence that was supplanting the rustic style of earlier hunting club lodges. The house was designed by the Columbia firm Lafaye and Lafaye. Designs of buildings and landscaping at the Hobcaw House and the Bellefield House complexes are typical of properties that were constructed or reused by hunting plantation owners for themselves and their employees. The entire site includes 42 contributing buildings, 53 contributing sites, and 25 contributing structures. Numerous outbuildings include such examples as various barns, pumphouses, various sheds, cottages, slave settlements/cabins, and a church. The source of the name lies in the 1718 royal grant to John, Lord Carteret, a “barony” of 12, 000 acres on the southern portion of Waccamaw Neck, called Hobcaw Point. Between 1766 and 1767 the property was surveyed, divided, and sold as several parcels.

Hobcaw Barony Info

Address: 22 Hobcaw Road, Georgetown, SC 29440
Website: http://www.hobcawbarony.org/

Hobcaw Barony Map

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