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Middleton Place

American Landmark: Charles Duell and the Rebirth of Middleton Place

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by Virginia Christian Beach

Charles Duell was 31 years old when he inherited Middleton Place at the time of his grandfather’s death in 1969. His sudden inheritance compelled him to leave a finance career in New York and move his family to South Carolina, where he found the national landmark languishing. Home of a Declaration signer and a First Continental Congress president, Middleton Place also was the residence for hundreds of enslaved men, women and children. As the new man in charge, Duell’s challenge was to preserve the history contained in the houses and lands of his forebears, while also making them sustainable, relevant and accessible for future generations of all Americans. Affirming Ralph Waldo Emerson’s thesis that “there is properly no history, only biography,” American Landmark weaves together myriad biographical stories, introducing the reader to an array of protagonists — both White and Black — who shaped this iconic place and were shaped by it.