Beaufort County SC Plantation for Sale on St. Helen’s Island

Another historic Lowcountry plantation is on the market.

Tombee Plantation on St. Helen’s Island in Beaufort County is listed for $3.5 million. The 23.96 acre property is less than 20 minutes from downtown Beaufort, Fripp Island and Hunting Island.

Located along Tombee Creek, the land overlooks nearby St. Philips Island, once the private retreat of media mogul Ted Turner, but now owned by South Carolina and available for nature tours .

The main house and the guest house are surrounded by holm oaks, massive pines, palm trees and century-old magnolias. The main house was originally built in the 1790s by Thomas Benjamin “Tom B.” Chaplin and is a Georgian style building. It was among the first residences on the island, according to the listing. It sits on a tabby foundation and includes a large living and dining room, a modern kitchen, three bedrooms, three bathrooms and an expansive basement.

The guesthouse features a great great room, kitchen, two bedrooms, three bathrooms, and screened porches.

In front of the houses is a hearth under a large live oak tree.

“This is truly a four-season property and a very manageable historic estate,” this listing says, noting the screened porches and covered porches, among other features.

Fallen planting
Tombee Plantation on St Helena Island Brown Land + Plantation Advisors Provided

The plantation has a launch pad in Station Creek which feeds the Strait of St. Helena and the Atlantic Ocean. The secluded waters also provide the opportunity to harvest oysters, crabs, plaice and rockfish.

The original plantation was 376 acres and a hub for shipping cotton from Sea Island to Charleston, using slave labor. A report states that the plantation had 65 enslaved workers in 1790 and 25 in 1850. The same report noted that the federal government purchased the plantation in 1863 as part of the Port Royal experiment and ownership was divided into plots, “much of the land being owned by the descendants of freed slaves until 1971.”

“St. Helena Island was the epicenter of emancipation and Tombee was among the first to do so,” the listing reads. “The Tombee house was guarded by the government and used as an agricultural school to educate freedmen. The large house’s over 750 square foot basement was a local “juke joint” for the Gullah Geechee (community) for many years.

The Residence is one of the few Antebellum structures still standing in the Lowcountry today.

Nationally acclaimed restaurateur James Williams, whose life is documented in John Berendt’s book Midnight in The Garden of Good and Evil, purchased the property and began restoring the house to its “original grandeur” in the 1970s. This project and her efforts to restore other historic buildings were documented in Dorothy Williams Kingery’s book “More Than Mercer House: Savannah’s Jim Williams & His Southern Houses”.

Years later the house was in need of repairs and the current owners, who are also renowned restorers, have completely renovated and restored it.

They “have spared no expense to modernize and bring this special place back to life,” the listing reads.

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Lana Ferguson typically covers stories in Northern Beaufort County, Jasper County, and Hampton County. She joined The Island Packet & Beaufort Gazette in 2018 as a crime news reporter. Before coming to the Lowcountry, she worked for publications in her home state of Virginia and graduated from the University of Mississippi, where she was editor of the student daily. Lana was also a 2019 Fellow of the University of South Carolina Media Law School.
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