Edisto Island in South Carolina is home to two of the nation’s oldest slave cabins. Cabins found on the island date back to the 1850’s. At the Point of Pines Plantation, there were cabins of 75 black slaves who lived in the two-room homes before and after Emancipation. The Point of Pines village held residents in the wooden sheds well into the 1980s. None of the cabins had electricity. Residents would huddle against a fire in the winter to keep warm as well as in the summer to ward off mosquitoes.
In 1986, the Point of Pines village was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Now, with the assistance of the Edisto Island Historical Preservation Society, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture will take one of the cabins for display. Plank-by-plank, the reconstruction will be added to the major exhibits.
The Edisto Island Society raised $40,000 to clear the brush away from the cabins and install diagonal beams to stabilize the building. Unfortunately, they lacked funds to move the cabin to a safe location. It was then that the Smithsonian reached out to assist. The cabin will be a part of an exhibit at the $500 million dollar museum called Slavery and Freedom.
As the project went underway by Museum Resources, Inc., a preservation company, workers found that the walls of the cabin were stuffed with newspaper for insulation. The color of the doors and windows were light blue, a color that slaves of the island believed would keep evil spirits away.