Joseph McGill is a program officer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation in South Carolina. But that's only his day job.

On the side, McGill is a Civil War reenactor who has recently begun sleeping in former slave cabins. In fact, since May of this year, he's dozed off in six of the East Coast's tiny, wooden shacks.

For each overnight stay, McGill brings a sleeping bag, pillow, flashlight, whistle and a club. The club is for protection against nature's critters, not humans (or uninvited ghosts, for that matter). With these possessions in tow, he saunters into the cabin, lies down and tries his best to fall asleep.

Despite the strangeness and, dare we say, spookiness, of this task, McGill explains that getting solid Zs inside the various slave cabins has actually become easier over time.

"I am alone with my thoughts with little to no distractions," he tells Asylum. "I often think about the people who once inhabited that space and all that they endured."

He adds: "I have never been frightened, but I do get upset to think that slavery was a system that was institutionalized and state-supported."

Continue reading to learn more about McGill's project.



In addition to trying to briefly re-live (one of) the experiences of slaves, McGill's goal is to spread awareness about the actual cabins themselves.

"My overall mission for this project is to bring much needed attention to these structures," he tells us. "There have been many slave cabins that have been restored, but there are several that have not been restored, and this project can help identify those."

Some of the structures he's stayed in include Goodwill Plantation, a privately owned and restored all-wood cabin just east of South Carolina's capital of Columbia, the infamously haunted Magnolia Plantation and McLeod Plantation, both of which are near Charleston.

The project has no expiration date, says McGill. He plans to sleep in as many as he can and even urges others to call and invite him to stay in cabins that exist on their property.

"This is bigger than me and bigger than South Carolina," McGill states. "If I could do this for the rest of my life, I would." Read more about the project here.


Photographs from Magnolia Plantation in North Charleston:




Photographs from Heyward House located in Bluffton, South Carolina.