Preserving a treasure that brings American history to life
Duell, who tells whole story of Middleton Place, honored for work
February 3, 2023 The Post and Courier
BY ISABELLE ALTMAN
Hanging on a wall on the first floor of the Edmondston-Alston House on South Battery is one of 11 remaining copies of the Ordinance of Secession. Peering at it, Charles Duell points to the names of his ancestors, the Middletons, who put their signatures to the document. He remarks their grandfather Arthur Middleton and other ancestors had signed the Declaration of Independence less than a century before. “This document tells the story of how this generation destroyed the Union their grandparents had put together,” he said. And in fact, Duell has also preserved a copy of the Declaration of Independence at Middleton Place, the sprawling plantation on the banks of the Ashley River. Founded by Henry Middleton, second president of the First Continental Congress, the plantation has stood through Colonial times, two wars, the 1886 earthquake, and Hurricane Hugo, to say nothing of nearly three centuries worth of wear and tear by its inhabitants and even the salty sea air of the Lowcountry. That longevity is partly due to the efforts of Duell, who unexpectedly inherited both Middleton Place and the 19th century Edmondston-Alston House in 1969. He has spent the past half-century restoring and preserving both properties, setting up the Middleton Place Foundation in 1974 to help fund the ongoing efforts.
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