First mounted during Black History Month in 2018, a fascinating special exhibit in the second-floor Summer Bedroom of the House Museum has been made permanent. Previously staged as it might have looked late in the day in anticipation of the master’s retirement for the evening, beginning in February 2018 it now appears much as it might have during the early morning hours after the master awakened – bed unmade, clothing scattered about, toiletries laid out and letters or books strewn open.
The room, in short, looks lived-in – but frozen in time. It sets the stage for interpretation of the complex relationship between master and slave. It will promote a better understanding of slavery and the role that enslaved house servants played in maintaining the master’s lifestyle, as well as illustrate some of the daily routines of enslaved people within the owner’s household.
In this interpretation, each tour guide will be able to name the people who would have been in the owner’s bedroom – perhaps Stephen, the barber; or Caesar, Henry Middleton’s waiting man (valet); or Polly, a seamstress; or Flora, a laundress. In telling their stories or stories like theirs, Middleton Place’s overall historical narrative is advanced.
Middleton Place has a long history of commitment, dating back to the creation of the Middleton Place Foundation in 1974, to researching, documenting and properly interpreting what is known about the enslaved African and African American population at this National Historic Landmark as well as other plantations owned by the Middletons over the course of nearly two centuries.
The House Museum Tour is a $15 add-on for adults and requires General Admission to Middleton Place.
Don’t miss the Beyond The Fields Walking Tour and a visit to Eliza’s House where an exhibit focusing on the daily lives of enslaved people and their work “beyond the fields” is on display. The Beyond The Fields Walking Tour and Eliza’s House exhibit are included with regular general admission to Middleton Place year-round. For further insight into Black history research at Middleton Place, consider the book and documentary film of the same name, both of which are available in the Middleton Place Museum Shop.