Step back in time to the Antebellum South with a visit to the Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation on the Altamaha River in Brunswick, GA. This beautifully preserved, 19th century rice plantation is only an hour south of our Savannah bed and breakfast and well worth the drive.
It surprises many people to learn that, prior to the Civil War, coastal Georgia was the country’s main rice producer but it’s true. In fact, rice was Georgia’s number one export during the colonial era. The Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation was part of this movement, producing thousands of bushels of rice during its time.
The plantation was built in the early 1800’s by William Brailsford and his son-in-law with the help of several hundred enslaved workers. The rice fields were placed on a narrow stretch of land along the Altamaha River. Flood gates allowed the incoming tide to flood the fields and closed at low tide, holding the water in the fields.
The family continued rice cultivation after the Civil War against increasingly difficult odds. By 1913, debt forced them to switch to a dairy operation, which they kept at until getting out of debt in 1942. The house stayed in the family until the last member, Ophelia Dent, passed in 1973. Ophelia left the property to the state of Georgia.
A Historic Georgia Rice Plantation
Visitors to the Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation enjoy a fascinating look at the Lowcountry’s 19th-century rice culture.
Start your visit at the museum to see a brief film on the plantation’s history. There’s also model the plantation at its height, along with a collection of Dent family heirlooms. Then it’s off for a tour of the historic plantation house.
The antebellum plantation house at Hofwyl-Broadfield is a simple white building with strong Federal influences. Inside, you’ll discover much of the family’s original furnishings. Pieces of furniture dating from the 18th and 19th centuries, Cantonese china, and other artifacts. An ornate marble fireplace dominates the dining room.
Outside you’ll see remnants of the rice fields and the tabby ruins of what was probably the foundation of the plantation’s rice mill. There are also several surviving outbuildings to see, including the barn and ice house.
Plantation grounds are covered with camellias, wisteria, magnolias, palms, and enormous, ancient, live oaks. The plantation’s nature trail leads you back to the Visitor Center.
The Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation
The Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation is located at 5556 U.S. Highway 17 N in Brunswick, GA, a little over an hour’s drive from Savannah B&B. Spend the day exploring the historic plantation and the Brunswick area, then head back to the supreme comforts of your room at McMillan Inn. The perfect day!
Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation is open 9am to 5pm, Tuesday through Sunday, with the last plantation tour occurring at 4pm, daily. The site is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.