While visiting Edenton, there is a unique opportunity to visit and learn about life in the days of large plantations. Several Edentonians were instrumental in acquiring, in the late 1700s, former swampland and transforming it into one of the largest (around 100,000 acres) plantations in the region, if not the nation. Even though the family did not live there permanently, disaster visited them at Somerset Place. Just a short drive from Edenton, visiting Somerset Place will expand your understanding of life on a very large plantation, from the perspective of the enslaved as well as the owners. It is located at 2572 Lake Shore Road near Creswell, NC 27928. The site is open April through October, on Mondays through Saturdays, between 9 am and 5 pm and on Sundays from 1 pm until 5 pm. November through March hours are, Mondays through Saturday, 10 am until 4 pm and on Sundays, between 1 pm and 4 pm. If you need additional information, call (252) 797-4500 or visit via the Internet. As the North Carolina web site reports:
“Somerset Place is a representative state historic site offering a comprehensive and realistic view of 19th-century life on a large North Carolina plantation. Originally, this unusual plantation included more than 100,000 densely wooded, mainly swampy acres bordering the five-by-eight mile Lake Phelps, in present-day Washington County. During its 80 years as an active plantation (1785-1865), hundreds of acres were converted into high yielding fields of rice, corn, oats, wheat, beans, peas, and flax; sophisticated sawmills turned out thousands of feet of lumber. By 1865, Somerset Place was one of the upper South’s largest plantations.”
Visitors on the guided tour are briefed at the canal site of the family disaster that struck down the owners of Somerset Place and have an opportunity to walk through the rooms of the large plantation house.