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Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Hermitage In Savannah Georgia

Hermitage Plantation
image of manor house
Henry McAlpin's home at Hermitage Plantation, built c. 1820.
From the collections of The Henry Ford

Henry McAlpin's 400-acre plantation was located on the Savannah River, just north of the city of Savannah--the heart of a rice-growing region. McAlpin was one of the wealthiest men in the South. He didn't just rely only on crops for his livelihood; he manufactured bricks, rice barrels, cast iron products and lumber, too. Examining the site plan of the Hermitage Plantation reveals a variety of buildings and industries. At the Hermitage Plantation, like other plantations along coastal South Carolina and Georgia, the task system of labor organization was used.,%20Savannah,%20GA.jpg

Site Plan of Hermitage Plantation 

Most plantations included housing for the planter's family, housing for the enslaved workers, mills and other industrial buildings.
Site Map, Hermitage Plantation, Savannah, GA.

How would you describe the arrangement of the brick houses used by the enslaved families?  What do you think was its impact on how families interacted?
 What industries can you locate on this map of the Hermitage Plantation?
Does it look like there is any common area in these quarters?   How might this common area have been used? 

Hermitage Plantation 

view of plantation 
Hermitage Plantation
Main entrance to Henry McAlpin's Hermitage Plantation. Note planter's home at end of street.
(Edited historical photo) From the collections of The Henry Ford
In 1850, there were 201 enslaved African Americans living at the Hermitage Plantation near Savannah, Georgia. Their homes were built of brick because the Hermitage Plantation operated a brickworks. Most other enslaved persons' houses were built of wood and didn't last long. The African Americans who lived at the Hermitage made the bricks and then constructed the houses by hand--in fact, by l850, these skilled workers made 60 million bricks for buildings around Savannah!In the American South, enslaved families often lived together or near one another. On Henry McAlpin's Hermitage Plantation, enslaved families generally lived together as a unit. Not all plantation owners believed this was important; some separated families by selling individual members to other plantation owners. Faced with hostility and oppression, enslaved African Americans formed tightly knit communities bound together by a spirit of cooperation.
Exterior of House
Brick house from Hermitage Plantation
now in Greenfield Village, 1997

Source: The Henry Ford