Greenfield Plantation of Georgetown, SC, is opening its doors to the public. Nestled along the Black River under moss-covered oaks, the turn-of-the-century estate offers a rare glimpse of a fading era.
A Brief History of Greenfield Plantation
Greenfield Plantation is located in Georgetown, SC, the third oldest town in South Carolina, following Charleston and Beaufort. Founded in 1729, Georgetown became an official port in 1732. This enabled the planters and merchants to bypass Charleston, avoiding the extra freight and duties. Indigo, prized for blue dye, was the first primary crop, but as competition caused a diminished demand for indigo, the planters turned to rice. Great fortunes were made by these crops and Georgetown County prospered. By 1840, the Georgetown District (County) produced nearly one-half of the total rice crop of the United States and the port exported more rice than any port in the world. The local variety called "Carolina Gold" was known worldwide.
The property known as Greenfield Plantation first appeared to be owned by William Saxby, who acquired the land grants on the Black River in 1735. When he and his wife,Sarah died in 1747, the property passed to their minor sons, Richard and Thomas. The land next appeared under ownership of Paul Lapear in 1753. Orphaned at 13, he later married his wife, Sarah, and had 5 children. He divided the 1000 acres in half in 1777, selling half to Stephen Ford, owner of the Waterford/Deer Hall tract directly across the river. LaPear may have died around 1788, as the estate is mentioned being enumerated for the 1790 census with 46 slaves. The first record of the name Greenefield (with an extra 'e') was in 1790 when Thomas Shubrick purchased the property. The land next appeared in possession John Julius Pringle who probably purchased it from Shubrick. His grandson, John Julius Izard Pringle inherited Greenfield and his mother lived nearby at White House. Following his father's death, his mother, Mary Izard Pringle, married Joel Roberts Poinsett in 1833.
John Julius Izard Pringle's widow, Jane Lynch Pringle operated both White House and Greenfield Plantations toward the end of the Civil War. In 1850, 150,000 pounds of rice was produced by the plantation. After the Pringles, Oliver B. Skinner, a prominent Georgetown businessman, became its next owner in 1885. His son, J. William Skinner sold the property to Hunter Grover, a manufacturer from Ohio in 1923.
Walker Patterson Inman purchased Greenfield in 1935 from the receivers of the Bank of Georgetown. He was a native of Atlanta where his family had been prominent cotton merchants. Widowed when Walker was a small child, his mother, Nanaline, married Buck Duke, president and founder of the American Tobacco Company in 1907. This union later produced a half-sister to Walker, Doris Duke. In 1924, Duke established The Duke Endowment, which contributed substantially to Trinity College, subsequently renamed Duke University.
Prior to his purchase there had been a structure on the plantation that had burned. The current house was completed and featured in 1938 in House and Garden, the article calling it a "Carolina Classic" with its painted white brick and stucco exterior. During his ownership he built a landing strip there and piloted his airplane in and out of Georgetown. Mr. Inman was one of 6 men who together completed the first transcontinental short wave radio transmission. He was a trustee of the Duke Endowment and Duke University and was actively involved in the development of Duke Hospital. Married to Georgia Polin, of Anderson, SC, he lived at the plantation with his wife, her daughter, Susan, and their son, Walker P. Inman, Jr. until his death at Greenfield in 1954. His son, Walker (Skipper) inherited the plantation as a child.
Walker (Skipper) Patterson Inman, Jr., born in 1952, lived with his aunt and uncle in Anderson, SC after his parents deaths, as well as with his aunt Doris Duke intermittently at her houses, Shangri-La in Honolulu and Rough Point in Newport. Doris kept camels at her Newport residence and Skipper told that she would become annoyed with the camels because they favored Skipper over her when he visited.
As an adult, he loved to sail and spent over two years sailing the world with his nephew in the 1990s on his boat, the Devine Decadence. Since the mid-eighties, he divided his time between Greenfield and his Wyoming residence. He possessed a vivacious and colorful personality is remembered for his extreme generosity. One Christmas, he sent all the boys at Tara Hall Home for Boys to Disneyworld. He was an accomplished photographer, sportsman, an expert on steam engines, a licensed pyrotechnic and a world class gun and knife collector. He loved life and he loved his twin children, Patterson and Georgia, and wife Daralee. He left the world in 2010, too soon for those who loved him.