With these regal plantations come great stories, a true sense of place and inspiring landscapes for meetings churning out the next big ideas.
Lowndes Grove Plantation
Charleston, South Carolina
The oak trees along the Ashley River at Lowndes Grove Plantation (above) are what strike you immediately. But the National Historic Landmark that saw a Revolutionary War invasion, a visit from former President Theodore Roosevelt and everything else that has happened since 1786 makes for a stunning conference venue. A meticulous restoration by Patrick Properties Hospitality Group has returned the plantation house, the river house and its beautiful grounds to glory. There are multiple spaces for creative event planning, on-site parking, Wi-Fi throughout and an open floor plan that spills out onto a covered brick terrace for indoor/outdoor gatherings.
White Castle, Louisiana
River Road on the outskirts of Baton Rouge is one of those idyllic pathways in America that seems paused in time. Winding along the Mighty Mississippi, the road is chockablock with stunning homes belonging to the area’s wealthiest citizens. Nottoway (pictured above) is an authentic antebellum mansion built in 1859 that sits on the opposite side of the river. The 52-acre property, which was once owned by a sugar magnate, strikes an imposing figure for a meeting. On-site, discover three elegant ballrooms, a full-service restaurant, a hotel with cottage rooms and suites, an outdoor pool and cabanas, as well as tennis courts, and golf and spa packages for attendees.
In 1843, this tranquil antebellum estate was built along Limestone Creek. Now, 171 years later, the 6,500-sq.-ft. plantation home hosts picturesque meetings and events. An on-staff event coordinator and teambuilding facilitator help plan meetings on the 18-acre property, which has a working vineyard, horse farm and Victorian gardens that border the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge on two sides. The plantation has partnered with a local hotel for overnight guests and has free shuttle service.
“Yes ma’am, we have space,” is the response you’ll get from site manager Kitsaa Stevens when inquiring about holding a meeting at Beauvoir. You wouldn’t expect anything less than that kind of Southern hospitality from the home of former President Jefferson Davis and his presidential library. Inside, the Beauvoir Room hosts up to 135 people seated for a meal, or 200 with theater-style seating. There are also smaller rooms for breakout sessions. Outside, however, there is no limit to the number of attendees that can be hosted on the grounds’ stunning 52 acres. Civil War reenactments are also conducted on the property for an interesting group activity.
Charles City, Virginia
Outside Richmond on the northern banks of the meandering James River stands a colonial home that was Virginia’s very first plantation. Shirley Plantation has housed 11 generations of one family who, to this day, own, operate and work there. As a nonprofit, the magnificent estate hosts faith-based events regularly. It provides site rentals for primarily outdoor events such as teambuilding sessions, group picnics, receptions and specialty tours.
An hour outside of New Orleans between Lake Pontchartrain and the banks of the Mississippi River sits this “Gone With the Wind”-esque space. A $2 million restoration brought the exquisite home back to its original grandeur, and now groups of up to 120 can dine under the famed canopy of oaks on the mansion’s terrace after touring hours. This is a perfect setting for dinners, private parties and other events.
Milledgeville was the first capital of Georgia, back when Atlanta was called Marthasville, and is home to the Greek Revival-style Rose Hill built in 1839. The estate allows small groups to use its two parlors, as well as adjoining large and small dining rooms. Outside, tented events can hold hundreds. The classroom downstairs seats around 25 people, and there are four bedrooms on the third floor that can be used as staging areas. Food and beverage vendors and caterers, as well as third-party event planners, are permitted and can use the on-site kitchen. Plenty of nearby hotel rooms in the old state capital allow for accommodations.
Long before the Civil War came to Tennessee, Sally Murfree Maney inherited 274 acres of land north of the town named after her father. She and many other families lived in the house there until it was renovated in the 1960s and converted into a museum and event space. Thirty miles from Nashville International Airport, the antebellum home hosts up to 150 people for intimate trade shows, church meetings and fundraisers in its 1,750-sq.-ft. ballroom. A tented outdoor area holds 300 people, and the venue grants groups use of the entire grounds, as well as access to table and chair rentals, Wi-Fi, audiovisual equipment and a catering kitchen. A pulpit and piano are also available.
Photo credit: Richard Sexton; Patrick Properties Hospitality Group; Darby Campbell; Mississippi Gulf Coast CVB