Butler Island Plantation

Butler Island Plantation, Darien: Address, Butler Island Plantation Reviews: 3.5/5

Butler Island Plantation
3.5
Historic Walking Areas
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3.5
18 reviews
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GilB867
Memphis, TN616 contributions
Mar 2019 • Couples
I was disappointed to read several comments on this site stating there is little to see and nothing of historical interest. The property is now owned by the Nature Conservancy and is not open to the public. The current house was built in 1927 not the 1800's. The rice mill chimney and one other brick structure are all that remain from the 1850's. However as for historical significance this site is of great importance for many reasons.

The property was developed in 1790 by Major Pierce Butler as a rice plantation. There are many references to this property, it's owners, and the slaves who lived there, in many books, in PBS films, in documentaries on Reconstruction, and in Ken Burn's film on the Civil War which it mentions.

Slave life was well documented by Frances Anne Kemble who married Pierce Mease Butler and published Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation 1838-1839. Pierce Butler's daughter Frances published Ten Years on a Georgia Plantation in 1882 and it is considered to be a treasurer trove of first hand information regarding Reconstruction after the Civil War.

There are two historical markers on the side of Hwy 17 south of Darien, GA. One marker is a Georgia Historical Society marker and one is a State of Georgia marker. It is quite telling to read each marker and see the dramatic difference in the story told by each. Quite appropriate given our divergent attitudes on slavery to this day. Take the time to stop and read them both.
Written May 3, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

zablob
Mableton, GA326 contributions
Apr 2015 • Solo
Located on Highway 17 between Darien and Brunswick is the old Butler Island Rice Plantation. This plantation was the source of the slaves for the largest slave auction in America which took pace in Savannah, Georgia on March 3, 1859.
Written May 20, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

cslnh
new hampshire190 contributions
Feb 2018 • Couples
As other reviewers have noted, the Butler Rice Plantation is a very rundown building with not much to see/learn in the way of history. However, as a spot for birders, it can be interesting. The front lawn can yield Meadowlarks and Pine Warblers in winter and snipes in the field across the driveway. The walk back behind the plantation along the river and several ponds is worth checking out for coots, gallinules, ducks, osprey, hawks and an occasional eagle. Across the street, just a few feet down on the left is a turn in for a road that leads to an observation tower overlooking what were the rice fields. The tower is easily visible from the road. Like always with birding, it's hit or miss, but we have seen hundreds of egrets, herons, ibis, spoonbills, sandpipers and on warm days some hefty gators. You can wall along the dikes between the fields to check out different ponds in the area.
Written February 19, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

wimkim
Atlanta, GA13 contributions
Jun 2015 • Solo
I have wanted to visit Darien for years now, and I finally made it in late June 2015. I had two stops in mind: Fort King George and Butler Island Plantation. Here, I'll tell you a little about Butler Plantation.

I knew several days in advance that I would be touring these places, so I started reading Fanny Kemble Butler's Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation in advance. I downloaded it to my Kindle for free, and I downloaded the free audio using the Librivox app. (See also https://librivox.org/journal-of-a-residence-on-a-georgian-plantation-1838-1839-by-frances-anne-kemble/).

By reading about half of the book prior to visiting the plantation, I arrived with a head full of knowledge (at least from the perspective of the privileged plantation owner's wife) about Butler Island Plantation. You learn about the effects and uses of the tide, about Fanny's rowing on the Altamaha River (which looked like pea soup, she said), about the dreadful conditions of the slave infirmary (I don't think that building exists anymore), about conditions in the four slave settlements (for example, the way in which slaves were allowed to raise poultry, which often entered their homes; they sold these poultry in Darien about once per month), about the forbidding old-growth forests which are now gone due to Darien's sawyering history, about the treatment of house slaves, about the peculiar workings and tools of a rice plantation (God-awful places), etc. Fanny Kemble, though privileged, was an abolitionist, and her telling, thankfully, is not particularly romantic. She and her husband eventually divorced. See http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4p1569.html and http://www.gacivilwar.org/story/butler-island-plantation for more overviews.

The plantation is poorly marked from the road. I didn't realize this during my visit, but the current house is postbellum. One might assume the original plantation house(s) was/were near the site of the current house. That might be a fun thing for later folks to try and figure out and share on Trip Advisor. It is true that it's "On U.S. 17 about a mile south of the port town of Darien, Ga." And the towering rice mill chimney is a salient landmark from the road.

This is the kind of site you have to work to appreciate. If you just drive up to it without any knowledge, then you will probably find it lacking. There is neither tour nor gift shop nor toilet. It seems the only modern function of the place is that there is boat ramp access to the Butler River behind the plantation house.

During my visit, the place had a vividly haunting effect. The lawn and grounds were unkempt, and the lack of upkeep allowed me to immediately connect with the history of the place. I was able to imagine the people who dwelt here. I left with a strong feeling of having seen something valuable. It was the least developed plantation site I have seen, and also one of the most powerful. I think the towering rice mill chimney helps conjure feelings. The house, though built after the Civil War, helps orient you.

I recommend you go in a group of people (including a male or 2; sorry, the world we live in). The plantation is so undervisited that it has a very desolate and therefore not particularly safe (for lone females or children) feel. Cell phone service is also spotty. Remember, snakes and gators thrive in this region, so watch where you step!
Written July 5, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

barbaragwen270
Sebastian, FL1,081 contributions
Dec 2015 • Couples
I knew the history behind this plantation before I ever went. So I wasn't expecting a huge plantation home, slave quarters, a museum etc. Since this property is associated with the Nature's Conservancy, ( I saw one of their signs on the property) I was expecting to find a clean, well kept area. What a disappointment to see the property unkempt and even the path leading up to the front door overgrown and full of weeds. The house itself is badly in need of some up keep also. The grounds just looked awful, like nobody gave a damn. I have been a member of The Nature's Conservancy for many, many years. Always in the past when visiting Conservancy sites, I've felt pride and joy--not this time. I was just filled with embarrassment and a feeling of utter sadness. This IS an historical spot and it should be treated with some reverence. Shame on those who are supposed to be caring for this sacred site.
Written December 24, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Michael Sama
6 contributions
Jun 2020
"Those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it." The story behind the Butler Plantation is one of sadness for those that lived through it, We ALL need to learn and understand the past and how far we have progressed as a society.
Written June 29, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Steffi-Zeeva
Gainesville, FL26 contributions
Feb 2016 • Family
Couldn't get too close to the house, the yard and surrounding areas were flooded. Nice fishing dock on the river. WMA for duck hunting.
Written February 14, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

MotorhomeWillTravel
Tennessee16 contributions
Apr 2015 • Couples
It's a fascinating piece of history, but it's occupied by a business, so not open to the public., although they seem to allow folks to roam around the outside. If it was set up for inside, it would have gotten more stars. But still worth seeing- even the outside.
Written December 12, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Stuart O
Washington, NJ23 contributions
May 2019 • Couples
Behind the plantation house is an excellent kayak launching platform. Up the river is a very nice paddle with a couple of eagle nests. Well worth a stop.
Written June 1, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Kendall Arp
Bremen, GA211 contributions
Mar 2019 • Couples
Hidden little gem. Thank goodness for GPS. Really cool to read the historical markers and to think about what all took place here
Written March 9, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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