Middleton Place is a plantation in Dorchester County, directly across the Ashley River from North Charleston and about 15 miles (24 km) northwest of Charleston (Click Here for photos), in the U.S. state of South Carolina. The plantation, now a National Historic Landmark District and is home to the oldest landscaped gardens in the United States. John Williams, an early South Carolina planter, probably began building Middleton Place in the late 1730s. His son-in-law Henry Middleton (1717–1784), who later served as President of the First Continental Congress, completed the house's main section and its north and south flankers, and began work on the elaborate gardens. Middleton's son, Arthur Middleton (1742–1787), a signer of Declaration of Independence, was born at Middleton Place, and lived at the plantation in the last years of his life. In 1860, Williams Middleton signed the South Carolina Ordinance of Secession, in which the state declared it was no longer part of the United States. All this history ensured that this historic plantation found its place on the National Register of Historic Places.