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Plantations that rarely changed hands now see market glut in South Carolina

Randall Hill / Reuters

A circular driveway leads to the main house at Silver Hill Plantation in Georgetown, S.C., Feb. 17. The house was restored in 1999 by the current owners of the property. Silver Hill is listed for sale with Friendfield Plantation that includes 3264 acres of land along the marsh outside of in Georgetown, S.C. In the South Carolina Lowcountry, more than a half-dozen antebellum plantations, which don't change hands often, are for sale.

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Grounds manager Ed Carter walks down the stairway in the main house at Silver Hill Plantation in Georgetown, S.C, Feb. 17. Carter has worked on the property for 22 years and has collected a working history from his years of service.

Asking prices range from just over $3 million to $20 million for plantations of 350 acres to as many as 7,000 acres. Costly maintenance ups the financial pressure for any potential owner.

A plantation "is not for everybody," Charleston real estate broker Helen Geer said. "These places are very, very expensive to take care of, and people are cash-strapped right now."

At least eight plantations currently are for sale. They can be found at the end of gated, long dirt roads overhung by grand, centuries-old live oaks draped in Spanish moss.

-- Reported by Reuters

Randall Hill / Reuters

Friendfield Plantation grounds manager Ed Carter, left, and realtor Chip Hall of Plantation Services, Inc., stand in the front entrance of the main house at Silver Hill Plantation in Georgetown, S.C., Feb. 17. Silver Hill is listed for sale with Friendfield Plantation and includes 3264 acres of land along the marsh outside of Georgetown.

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The view from a porch overlooks the former rice fields at the main house at Silver Hill Plantation, in Georgetown, S.C., Feb. 17.

Randall Hill / Reuters

Realtor Chip Hall of Plantation Services, Inc. and Friendfield Plantation grounds manager Ed Carter walk to the main house at Friendfield Plantation in Georgetown, S.C., Feb. 17. The main plantation house at Friendfield was built in 1790 but burned in the 1920s. This house was built in 1930 on the foundation of the original plantation house.

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Friendfield Plantation custodian Vanessa Robinson cleans a study at Friendfield Plantation in Georgetown, S.C., Feb. 17. She has worked at the plantation for the last 9 years. The plantation has ties to Michelle Obama's family in South Carolina. According to plantation staff, Obama's great-great-grandfather, Jim Robinson, was a slave at Friendfield Plantation.

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Layers of wall coverings peel from the walls of the slave quarters at Friendfield Plantation, in Georgetown, S.C., Feb. 17, 2012. The buildings used up to the 1970s and were homes of the plantation workers and sharechoppers.

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A grave stone with just the first name of Jane shows the passage of time at the slave cemetery at Friendfield Plantation in Georgetown, S.C., Feb. 17. According to the 1860 census, 273 slaves lived at Friendfield Plantation.

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Medway Plantation property manager Bob Hortman and his dog Cooper, stand by the main plantation house in Goose Creek, S.C., Feb. 17. Hortman has lived and worked on the property for 34 years and oversees the day-to-day operations and maintenance of the plantation. Medway Plantation has 6728 total acres of land with 50 miles of maintained roads. The main building was built in 1686 and is the oldest brick structure in South Carolina.

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Garden worker Carolyn F. Mack takes a short break from her duties at Medway Plantation in Goose Creek, S.C., Feb. 17. Mack has worked at the plantation for the last 16 years, taking over a job previously held by her mother Janie Freeman who worked at the plantation for 22 years.

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A sculpture adorns the front grounds at Medway Plantation in Goose Creek, S.C., Feb. 17.

Randall Hill / Reuters

The late afternoon sunset reflects over a retention pond on the property at Medway Plantation in Goose Creek, S.C., Feb. 17. The plantation contains 6,728 acres of land and is staffed by 7 full-time employees. Upkeep on the property can run as high as $500,000 a year.