The “Frampton House” got its name from its original owner and builder, John Frampton, who, along with his brothers shared thousands of acres in what is now Beaufort and Jasper counties in South Carolina. Originally a King’s Grant to the Frampton family in the early 1700’s, the land was divided into working plantations. This site was known as “The Hill” plantation because it is the highest elevation for several miles around. John Frampton, with the aid of about 130 slaves, grew cotton and some rice nearby. Frampton was one of the signers of South Carolina’s Declaration of Secession from the Union, which started the Civil War.
In 1865, General Sherman’s Union troops burned the original plantation home and various buildings. Frampton, who had evacuated prior to the Civil War overtaking his home, returned with enough resources to build this house in 1868. The front façade rises two stories with posts that originally supported a second-story porch and French doors. These features were removed by the Campbell family who occupied the house in the 1950’s, for fear of children playing on the upper porch. Windows are two over two (2/2) lights with exterior blinds. A half-round bay window adorns the front parlor room. The house was heated by seven fireplaces. The original roof was split, wooden, shake shingles. The present roof is an authentic turne-metal roof of that period. Built as lathe and plaster walls, the interior was refurbished after the turn of the 20th century with more modern plaster board over heart pine studs and beams.
Various owners and families resided here over the years, and the old house fell into serious disrepair. In 1993, the Lowcountry Tourism Commission acquired the property and saved it from certain destruction. (Plans were being discussed that would have seen the house bulldozed, along with the wonderful 250-to-300-year-old Live oaks, to make way for another interstate truck stop.)
Thanks to various grants, community support, donations (and hard work), the Frampton House has been re-born and opened to the public as the Lowcountry Visitors Center & Museum.
Several visitors to the “Frampton House” have mentioned sensing an other-worldly “presence” in the old house. Some have asked about the old woman in the parlor, or the little girl and the calico cat on the stairs. (All of these entities remain aloof from the present staff.)
Two important periods of South Carolina and United States history are represented just behind the house:
During the War Between the States, General Lee’s Confederate troops built an earthwork gun emplacement in 1861 to help protect the Charleston to Savannah railroad – an important supply line for the Southern troops throughout the war. The mounds under the trees in the back yard are the remains of this earthen fortification.
Another addition marks yet an older conflict. The gazebo behind the house is the trailhead for the Lowcountry Revolutionary War Trail. The trail is a four-county driving & biking tour of sites of historical interest from the Colonial conflict. Few people realize that more skirmishes and decisive battles of the American Revolution occurred in South Carolina than in any other colony.
The Lowcountry Visitors Center & Museum (the old Frampton House) is located at Interstate 95, Exit 33 in South Carolina. The Center offers clean restrooms, a unique gift shop, historical displays and is open to the public seven days per week.