To celebrate the auspicious 10th anniversary of our Art and Architecture Series, we will journey to four of the area’s most stunning and culturally significant private homes, each a national historic landmark, for day-long excursions. Join us to explore the richly historic stalwarts, Mulberry and Richmond plantations, plus Auldbrass and Ashepoo, later architectural styles featuring fascinating architecture and intriguing modern uses of surrounding lands. As private residences, access is not available to the public, yet through the generosity and hospitality of the current owners, we are delighted to share these special properties with you.
All sites for this year’s series have been carefully chosen not only for their importance to Historic Charleston Foundation’s preservation mission, yet also for their vast open spaces. Committing to the health and safety of all participants, participants are asked to provide their own transportation to and from each location. Social distancing will be observed and face coverings required.
As a bonus, we’ve be visiting nearby chapels at each location. These are day-long excursions, and a boxed lunch will be provided.
Wednesday, December 16, 2020
Green Pond, SC
Tour will begin at 10am
Guest experts: Ceara Donnelly and Mike Blakely
Nestled within the 350,000-acre ACE Basin, Ashepoo is today a significant wildlife resource area that has preserved much of its cultural history as well. Purchased in the 1960s, its present owners have set the national standard for conservation management. The residential complex was designed by prominent architects from Chicago and features a unique mid-century tableau in contrast to a more typical Lowcountry residence. As a former rice plantation, many of Ashepoo’s historic fields are still maintained as flooded impoundments for hunting. Rice trunks, once used as irrigation tools for planting and harvesting, now help promote natural ecosystems vital to wildlife management. Old-growth longleaf pines serve as ideal habitat for quail, turkey and deer while wetlands provide essential nesting for myriad waterfowl.
First established in 1725 along Parker’s Ferry Road, a once busy wagon road between Charleston and Savannah, the brick ruins of Pon-Pon Chapel of Ease are from the third house of worship to occupy the site. Its original wooden building was replaced by a brick structure in 1754. Colloquially named “Burnt Church” after an 1801 fire, it was rebuilt c. 1820 but soon suffered from neglect after Walterboro replaced Jacksonboro as the county seat. In 1832, it was seriously damaged once more and never rebuilt. Near total collapse in 1959, Colleton County Historical and Preservation Society began working to stabilize and preserve Pon-Pon’s remains, placing it and the adjacent burial ground on the National Register of Historic Places in January of 1972.
Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Auldbrass / Sheldon Church Ruins
Beaufort County, SC
Tour will begin at 10am
Originally part of a 1731 royal grant and later referenced as “Old Brass,” this property was acquired in 1864 by Williams Middleton, then owner of Middleton Place. Today, Auldbrass Plantation is an extremely important design by Frank Lloyd Wright, one of America’s most celebrated 20th- century architects. Blending traditional plantation architecture with the natural environment of the surrounding Lowcountry, the complex of buildings consists of a main house, farm cottages, kennels, a stable, barn and aviary. Inside the main house, walls of native cypress angle inward at approximately 9 degrees before slanting 80 degrees overhead, a style that reflects the natural growth of the property’s live oak trees. Outside, designs for the downspouts symbolize Spanish moss while the clerestory windows evoke Wright’s architectural nod to the Yemassee natives who once inhabited the region. Wright died before his full plans for Auldbrass were realized. The current owner, however, continues to honor the original plan for the property, meticulously restoring existing buildings and adding new ones consistent with Wright’s unique vision.
Constructed between 1745 and 1753, Sheldon Church served as the main meeting house for Prince William’s Parish. Donating the land and funds, Lieutenant Governor William Bull spared little expense building the “Church at Sheldon.” Originally constructed with pediment windows, a gabled roof and ornate interior plaster and woodwork, contemporary accounts describe Sheldon as more of a Roman temple than a local house of worship. Burned by British troops in 1779, Sheldon was rebuilt by 1826, but again heavily damaged during the Civil War and never restored.
Wednesday, February 17, 2021
Mulberry / St. James Goose Creek
Berkeley County, SC
Tour will begin at 10am
Guest experts Richard Marks and Dr. Richard Porcher
Purchased in 1987 by Historic Charleston Foundation to prevent the subsequent development of the property as a golf course, Mulberry Plantation was the original property of Colonel Thomas Broughton, a prominent planter and fur trader who later served as Royal Governor. Built between 1711 and 1714, the house is the oldest exposed brick manor house in the Carolinas. Its unmistakable architecture boasts four corner pavilions topped with bell-cast roofs, wooden finials, and elaborate iron weathervanes extending from each. Mulberry continued as a productive rice plantation until the late 19th century. Abandoned in 1909, it was at last purchased in 1915 by Clarence Chapman of New Jersey, who stabilized and repaired the main house and in 1930 commissioned noted landscape architect Loutrel Briggs to design a formal garden.
One of six parish houses established by the Anglican Church Act of 1706, St. James Goose Creek was constructed circa 1715, and is the second oldest church building in South Carolina. It survives as the most elaborately adorned of all parish houses in the Lowcountry, exhibiting masterful plasterwork and entablatures. Nearly in ruins by 1844, St. Michael’s Church initiated extensive repairs that included new paint, plaster, roof reinforcement, and iron rods to help shore up all four walls. The earthquake on August 31, 1886 again nearly destroyed St. James, requiring the Vestry to raise significant funds for its extensive restoration.
Wednesday, March 17, 2021
Richmond Plantation / Strawberry Chapel
Tour will begin at 10am
Established on the banks of the Cooper River in the early eighteenth century, Richmond became a profitable rice plantation under Colonel John Harleston in 1769. Although a fire destroyed it in 1900, Richmond’s original main house, a two and one-half story frame structure on a raised brick basement, was captured in a pair of watercolors painted by Charleston miniaturist Charles Fraser circa 1803. The property is reflective of a time between 1890 and 1940 when wealthy northerners purchased Southern plantations primarily for recreational use. Purchasing the property circa 1920, New York banker and co-founder of E.F. Hutton, George A. Ellis, constructed the current house, an asymmetrical brickwork structure in a new-medieval (or Shavian Manor) style, featuring magnificent old-world fireplaces salvaged from English Tudor castles. Along with several outbuildings including a carriage house, gate house and, of course, a dog house complete with fifteen individual kennels. Sold in 1963 to the Low Country Girl Scout Council, Richmond served as a summer camp destination until 2011. With extensive renovations recently completed, Richmond’s house and grounds are now under private ownership.
Strawberry Chapel was initially established as the chapel of ease for Biggin Church, the official parish church of St. John’s Berkeley, although it later operated as a full parish church. Constructed circa 1725, it is the last visible remnant of the early colonial town of Childsbury. Extensively planned and laid out in 1707 by James Childs, the town became a commercial center and an important transportation link in the 18th century. The town declined and eventually became part of Rice Hope and Strawberry Plantations. Within Strawberry’s adjoining burial ground are stone and brick markers dating from the mid-18th to 20th century, the earliest engraved with the year 1748. Family plots include the names Ball, Stoney, Simons, Waring, Prioleau, and Harleston.