Collins Family House (ca.1830)

Somerset Place Plantation State Historic Site, NC

Somerset Place State Historic Site, located in Washington County of eastern North Carolina, preserves what was one of the largest antebellum plantations in the Upper South. Beginning operation in 1785, Somerset eventually grew to encompass some 100,000 acres of farmland where everything from rice to corn to oats to wheat and even lumber were cultivated and produced. As was the practice in that time period the primary labor source at the plantation was African slaves. Over its 80 year existence some 850 individuals were enslaved here. Somerset Place was owned by the family of Josiah Collins who, along with the two generations who followed him, became some of the wealthiest men of their time in the Carolina's due to the success of the plantation. At its height Somerset was both an industrial and residential complex consisting of over 50 buildings. Located on the property were gristmills, a hospital, a church, numerous barns, some 26 slave homes, and other auxiliary structures.

Unfortunately for the Collins' the Civil War cut their success story abruptly short. With the defeat of the Confederacy, Emancipation became the law of the land and it didn't take long for most of Somerset's slaves to move away. Financially ruined, the plantation was soon thereafter shut down for good. For the next 80 years the property passed through a series of owners and most of the original buildings disappeared. In 1939, what was left of the plantation was incorporated into Pettigrew State Park and a process of preservation was begun. Today all seven of the surviving structures have been restored (the Collins Mansion should re-open sometime in 2014) and numerous other structures such as the hospital, slave dwellings, and overseers house have been reconstructed. Overall I found the site to give quite an interesting (in both good and bad ways) view back to the time of the antebellum south...

  • kw

    on February 25, 2014

    Nice! It is quite the place to visit-- thanks for filling in so much of the historicity of the place!