Statue of Dionysus, by Edward McCartan, (1936), in Brookgreen Gardens
South Carolina's Brookgreen Gardens
by: Bobby McDonald
South Carolina's Brookgreen Gardens are a sculpture garden and wildlife preserve, located at Murrells Inlet, in Georgetown County. It is a 9,100 acre property that includes themed gardens with American figurative sculptures placed in the gardens, as well as the Lowcountry Zoo and a number of wildlife trails. The gardens were opened in 1932, courtesy and creation of Connecticut Philanthropist, Archer Huntington and his wife, artist and sculptress, Ann Hyatt-Huntington.
Situated on Waccamaw Neck, in Georgetown County, the Huntington's first visited the property, in 1929, and fell in love with the beauty of the former indigo and rice plantation, that was owned by Joshua John Ward, distinguished as the largest plantation slaveholder in the world. The gardens are on Ward's Brookgreen Plantation. Ward also owned The Oaks, Springfield, and Laurel Hill plantations, in the area. Thousands of African American slaves worked the rice crops that exported all over the world, from nearby Charleston and Georgetown.
During the Civil War, Confederates built an earthen structure on the grounds to block Union ships from coming into the tidal rivers, of this area of South Carolina.
Aboutt 1444 works of American figurative sculptures are displayed at the Archer and Anna Hyatt-Huntington Sculpture Garden. Many of the works are creations of sculptress Hyatt Huntington, but other artists are also featured. Walkways and garden paths link the sculptures in their distinctive garden, fountains, and landscape settings, with vistas of the scenery surrounding them.
A few of the former plantation relics still remain, on the property, including rice towers and other ruins of the once grand antebellum plantation system.
The Lowcountry Zoo and the Lowcountry Center are also on the property. This is where 'trekker tours' are launched into the back roads of the former plantations. Recent Archeological efforts have unearthed the foundations of several buildings at 'The Oaks' plantation. Ponds have been created from the former 'Brookgreen' plantation house sites. The Alston cemetery survives on the grounds of The Oaks plantation. Gov. James Alston and his child are buried in the cemetery. The same grave is a memorial to the governor's wife Theodosia Burr Alston, daughter of U.S. Vice-President Aaron Burr, who was lost at sea. Her ghost reportedly haunts the Grand Strand, looking for her father. The rice mill at Laurel Hill is all that remains of that plantation today.
The famous Myrtle Beach Golf Course is "just up the road!"
And delicious seafood dining is everywhere!
Enjoy Lowcountry South Carolina!!!