Not every historic site is fortunate enough to have a plethora of historic photos, but some are. I am fortunate to work at a site that does have many historic photos and a well documented past.
Currently I am working to help bring the story of Hampton to life through the use of historic images, in what I am calling a photo-point tour. I got the idea from seeing images of battlefields overlaid with their current positions.
If you are not aware, Hampton Plantation is very similar to Drayton Hall, as in it is not a restored structure. This is great for telling the story of the home as it developed and revealing its architectural history, but seeing a house with no walls or ceilings can make it feel alien. By and large, visitors go to historic homes to learn about life in a different era; they want to relate their own experiences to those of people living in the past. (ie including the Human Element.)
To help bring some of its people to life, I am finding the location of historic photos throughout the home’s history, and lining up their current day counterparts.
My goal for this is two fold:
- It will provide a jumping off point for bringing up different themes in the plantation’s history.
- It will provide visitors that small glimpse into a past life, that has largely been erased as time marches on.
Here are two examples I have provided.
The first is Henry Rutledge, the owner of Hampton from 1860 to 1921. Here he is pictured in front of a tree from about 1900, with two deer he has hunted on the property. Henry was something of a character, he was always said to dress as an English sportsman. He would impart a love of hunting to his son Archibald Rutledge, who would make Hampton famous through his numerous poems, short stories, and books.
The second is Will Alston on the front steps of the mansion. The photo appears to be in the 1960s, when the Rutledge family still owned the house. Will was the son of Hampton tenants, and life long resident of Hampton Plantation (b. 1912 d. 1992). When Archibald Rutledge was living at Hampton, it was still a tenant operation, but the Alstons held a special place on the plantation. Will and his mother Sue, would assist Archibald in welcoming guests to the mansion, and after the house became a state entity, Archibald requested that Will be retained as a Park Ranger. He was the first park ranger until he passed away, and many visitors today remember Will and hearing some of his stories.
Has your site ever tried anything like this? Let me know.