Tuesday, April 25, 2006

At Fenwick's Gate with Stoney's Date


Here we are at the gates of Fenwick Hall, no closer than we were to the Governor's Mansion a while back in Columbia. Sometimes we show you the icing, but not the cake. Fenwick Hall became a metaphor for the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction as it had served that purpose not so many years ago. The house at Fenwick Hall would not be visible from this point so it will remain a mystery for the moment. The greater mystery, however, is the actual age of the place.

Samuel Gaillard Stoney in his classic " PLANTATIONS OF THE LOWCOUNTRY ", places the date at 1730. Sam Stoney was our recognized authority on local plantations, his book a Bible for those who studied and explored them. With renewed interest and some poking about the place, Mr. Stoney's date has been called into question.

Whether these doubts are the studied concerns of professionals or the raising of sand by folks who want to be noticed, the fact remains that Stoney does not attribute the date of 1730 to an actual source. It's a simple question easily posed today, but if Sam Stoney was alive it would be a different matter. He would likely settle the question either by producing or quoting his actual source or he would simply tell the doubting folks to go straight to hell. Either way would suit us.

Sam Stoney was at times even more interesting than the topics on which he wrote. He was a creature of a different era and would tolerate none of the modern massaging information or the endless nattering of consultants. The lack of documentation gives pause to the new people, but it well might be that he had this on good account. Stoney wrote historical sketches of 55 plantations constructed from 1686 to 1878 in his 'PLANTATIONS OF THE LOW COUNTRY" which was probably published around 1938 to 1940. He died in 1968. He had access to aged folks who kept either oral or unofficial written history. Not only are most of his sources dead, but they were usually genuine articles who might not have granted other researchers such information as Stoney was given. We generally respected Stoney's research and opinions without demanding documentation.

Regardless of whether the date of 1730 stands under modern scrutiny, a local architect believes that Fenwick Hall is at least pre-Revolutionary and, as he adds, " That's plenty old ". Mr. Stoney would probably agree on that at least


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I trust you never had to avail yourself of Fenwick Hall's restorative services in its earlier life.

4:48 PM  
Blogger Windviel said...

No, I'm ever so grateful that the hook never really set or at least not yet. In our earlier life, car and driver ran on ethanol together so I'm also grateful to have avoided both morgue and slammer as well as Fenwick.

12:17 AM  
Blogger faststuff said...

I'm one of the few that got to play hide and seek in Fenwick's gardens and houses back in the 1970's. That was before the days of the drug rehab but it was already haunted many years before that. Thanks for reminding me of those great memories and may Fenwick live on forever.. john

2:19 AM  
Blogger Windviel said...

Thanks for reminding us about those carefree days during which kids had the run of so many wonderful old places. Change has come to the lowcountry and in the future few will know the carefree lives we had.

3:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE:Thanks for reminding us about those carefree days during which kids had the run of so many wonderful old places. Change has come to the lowcountry and in the future few will know the carefree lives we had.

3:43 AM

Another year another comment....2009.>...Long live the Lowcountry. It's up to the poets, to continue the legacy of the plantations........
Sam Stoney was indeed a character...Looking for info.....please contact.

3:03 AM  
Blogger Windviel said...

Samuel Gaillard Stoney lived within and reminds us of a time in the Low Country when life had a quality it seems unlikely to recapture. The relative poverty of our region was no picnic, but it instilled values, saved most of our historic structures, galvanized character and taught us to do more with less. The regimentation of children's lives and the adoration of tangible wealth has plowed under the joy and innocence of the lives we once had. Stoney is among the Low Country writers who reminds us of what we have lost.

11:08 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home