Sumter County, South Carolina

Sandhills Splendor

Benjamin Pleasant, c. 1910. Plater Williams Family Papers (#2000-007), Williams College Archives and Special Collections

Historic photographs from a 1910 Clark family album, archived at Williams College Archives and Special Collection, depict many of the service structures that populated the landscape, providing a rare, historic glimpse into the buildings where the 27 enslaved individuals had lived and worked.

Photographic documentation also reveals who many of these individuals were, including Benjamin Pleasant, who is pictured in front of the original laundry building.

Born in Virginia in 1826, Pleasant was enslaved as the personal servant and valet to Manning. While he lived at Millford, he married Henrietta and had at least eight children.  Pleasant remained at Millford until his death in 1910 and his family continued to live in the area for generations.

Porter's Lodge near front entrance of Millford, c 1910. Plater Williams Family Papers (#2000-007), Williams College Archives and Special Collections

In 1902 the Manning family sold the property to Mary Clark Thompson, the widow of a prominent New York banker. Thompson and her family used Millford as a hunting retreat and a family gathering spot for most of the twentieth century. They updated many out-of-date systems and built new buildings to allow multiple related families to stay on the property at once.

In 1992 following Hurricane Hugo, the Clarks sold Millford to Richard H. Jenrette, who undertook his own extensive restoration of the property, ensuring that the improvements of the Mannings and the Clarks remained intact and well cared for. Jenrette and Thompson acquired additional pieces of Millford’s original furniture, Manning family portraits, and other objects associated with the house.  Jenrette also restored original outbuildings, updated the landscaping around the mansion, and added a swimming pool.

Today, Millford is recognized as one of the outstanding and best-preserved examples of Greek Revival architecture in North America.

Front Facade of Millford. Laundry building flanking the left side and Kitchen building flanking the right side of the main house.

Athenian Splendor by Way of Rhode Island

The similarities between Millford and the Charleston Hotel with their Corinthian colonnades, flat roofs, and crowning acroteria, is strong enough for some to suppose that Charles Friedrich Reichart, the German-born architect of the Charleston Hotel, was also responsible for the design of Millford.

The designer Manning paid for Millford’s finished drawings was the Rhode Island architect, Russell Warren. Though Warren’s work was concentrated heavily in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, he also ventured south and prepared designs for a house in Charleston and worked in Georgetown, South Carolina in the 1830s. The similarity between Millford and some of his houses in New England, especially the 1840 DeWolf House in Bristol, Rhode Island, strongly suggests that he is the Warren referred to in Manning’s accounts who was compensated $10 for the provision of drawings.


Double Parlor on first-floor of Millford.


National Register of Historic Places
Historic Structure Report