Residents and guests of DeBordieu, the private, ocean front community just south of Pawleys Island, SC, are so fortunate to be located right next door to an historic treasure, Friendfield Village in Hobcaw Barony.
Far more than a few slave villages once bustled with activity on the Waccamaw Neck. On the timeline of history, this region was an international leader in indigo and rice production. An army of slaves was required to fuel agricultural empires, and wealthy lifestyles were envied across the globe. Sadly, a majority of those old communities are lost to time. Which is why Friendfield Village is so very special.
Named after one of eleven plantations that once comprised the property that is now Hobcaw, Friendfield was the largest of the villages. Twelve structures included cabins with a resident population that hovered around one hundred.
When Wall Street financier Bernard Baruch bought Barony Hobcaw Barony around 1905, former slaves and their descendants still lived in the small cabins and worshipped in the village church. Mr. Baruch hired many of them to work on the property and provided materials for upgrading their modest homes.
Driving into the village, the air is heavy with history. The charming, wooden church – built in 1890 to replace an earlier structure – is especially intriguing. Its modest and beautiful steeple evokes days when this little church was central to life at Hobcaw. Traditional services, weddings, funerals, town meetings – even dances! – were held here.
Many of Baruch’s famous visitors – industrialists, filmmakers, government officials, Broadway directors, journalists, artists and headliners – attended services in Friendfield’s small church. It is said the congregation got especially excited whenever Baruch was in attendance; that meant the service would be short. Why? Because someone would always stand up in the middle of a long sermon and tell the preacher to shut up, “the boss is here and he’s goin’ duck huntin’ in the mornin’.”
Public access to Friendfield is offered through staff-guided tours and programs. Three-hour van tours of Hobcaw Barony, $20 per person, are scheduled Tuesday through Friday, usually in the morning. Please call for times. Reservations are essential. Minimal walking is required and – in addition to Friendfield – tours include views of marshes and rice fields, longleaf pine forests, the grounds of Belle’s 1936 home and stable, and Hobcaw House, rebuilt in 1930 following a fire.
Located on Highway 17 ten miles south of Pawleys Island and one mile north of Georgetown, someone is available in the Visitor Center Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM. Phone calls are welcomed at 843.546.4623 or surf over to HobcawBarony.org. This is a treasure worth discovering!