Brookgreen Gardens

Brookgreen Gardens is a sculpture garden and wildlife preserve, located just south of Murrells Inlet, in South Carolina. The 9,100-acre (37 km2) property includes several themed gardens with American figurative sculptures placed in them, the Lowcountry Zoo, and trails through several ecosystems in nature reserves on the property. It was founded by Archer Milton Huntington, stepson of railroad magnate Collis Potter Huntington, and Anna Hyatt Huntington, his wife, to feature sculptures by Anna and her sister Harriet Randolph Hyatt Mayor along with other American sculptors. Brookgreen Gardens was opened in 1932, and is built on four former rice plantations, taking its name from the former Brookgreen Plantation.[3]

Brookgreen Gardens
Fighting Stallions.JPG
Fighting Stallions – by Anna Hyatt Huntington at garden park entrance.
Nearest cityMurrells Inlet, South Carolina, U.S.
Coordinates33°31′14″N 79°5′59″W / 33.52056°N 79.09972°W / 33.52056; -79.09972Coordinates: 33°31′14″N 79°5′59″W / 33.52056°N 79.09972°W / 33.52056; -79.09972
Area9,100 acres (37 km2)[2]
ArchitectAnna Hyatt Huntington
Architectural styleSculpture gardens
Part ofAtalaya and Brookgreen Gardens (ID84002045)
NRHP reference No.78002510[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPApril 15, 1978
Designated NHLDCPOctober 5, 1992
Diana by Paul Manship

Early historyEdit

Originally, what is now Brookgreen Gardens was four rice plantations. The plantations from south to north were The Oaks, Brookgreen, Springfield, and Laurel Hill. The current gardens and surrounding facilities lie completely on the former Brookgreen Plantation, which was owned by Joshua John Ward, the largest American slaveholder.[4]

Only a handful of relics survive on the former plantations. The Alston (or Allston) cemetery survives on the grounds of The Oaks plantation. Gov. Joseph 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 Vice President Aaron Burr, who was lost at sea. Her ghost is said to haunt the Grand Strand, looking for her father. The rice mill at Laurel Hill is all that remains of the plantation today. During the American Civil War, Confederates built an earthen structure on the grounds to block Union Navy ships from coming into the tidal rivers.[citation needed]

The HuntingtonsEdit

It is the creation of Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington of Connecticut, who purchased four plantations to open the garden to showcase her sculptures. Situated on Waccamaw Neck in Georgetown County, South Carolina, between the Waccamaw River and the Atlantic coast, it is the country's first public sculpture garden and has the largest collection of figurative sculpture by American artists in an outdoor setting in the world.[citation needed] It is also a nature and historical preserve with a small zoo and a nature exhibition center.

Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington first visited the property in 1929. Because they were captivated by the beauty of it, they purchased nearly 9,100 acres (37 km2) of forest, swamp, rice fields and beachfront.[citation needed] They intended to establish a winter home on the coast, but Anna saw the potential of the property and they quickly began to develop her vision of making it the showcase for her sculptures. Archer, son of philanthropists Arabella Worsham Huntington and stepson of Collis Huntington, and Anna have donated property and contributed much to U.S. arts and culture in a number of states. Her sculpture of Joan of Arc is a feature of New York City's Riverside Park.

Public landmarkEdit

Sculpture gardensEdit

The Tortoise Fountain by Janet Scudder
Diana by Augustus Saint-Gaudens in garden fountain setting
Brookgreen Gardens, with old gate and sculpture
Wood Nymph by Henry Hering

About 1445 works of American figurative sculpture 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, fountain, or landscape settings, with vistas of the scenery surrounding them. A 1,600-acre (650 ha) area of Brookgreen Gardens was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.[1] The sculpture garden portion, 551 acres (223 ha), of Brookgreen Gardens was included in the designation of Atalaya and Brookgreen Gardens as a National Historic Landmark in 1984.[5][6] Atalaya Castle is just across U.S. 17 which cuts through the former combined Huntington property.

The sculpture gardens includes works by:[7]

Lowcountry TrailEdit

Winner of the South Carolina Heritage Tourism Award, the Lowcountry Trail consists of a beautiful boardwalk that crosses the hillside overlooking Mainfield, a restored rice field of the former Brookgreen Plantation. For enslaved Africans on Brookgreen Plantation, this hill was a bridge between the world of daily work and the familiarity of life in the slave village beyond the crest of the hill. The rhythms of life – planting, growing, harvesting, threshing – changed seasonally for everyone on the rice plantation. Archaeological projects have revealed the remains of four structures on the hillside: the site of the overseer's residence at the apex of the hill, and its kitchen, smokehouse and dependency closer to the edge of the rice field. Along the trail, interpretive panels that describe life on a rice plantation and four stainless steel figures have been placed to represent the Plantation Owner, the Overseer, and an Enslaved African Male and an Enslaved African Female. These figures, created in stainless steel by Babette Bloch, serve as visually compelling landmarks to draw visitors along the trail and to interpret a revealing story about each one's role in the economic and social system of a Lowcountry plantation.

Lowcountry Trail Audio TourEdit

The Lowcountry Trail Audio Tour is a public education program that emphasizes historic preservation. The tour winds along the Ricefield Overlook and adjacent rice field and is free with garden admission. A 30-minute fictional story about life on Brookgreen Plantation unwinds progressively as listeners walk the trail.[citation needed]

Zoo and plantation sitesEdit

The Lowcountry Zoo and the Lowcountry Center are also on the property. This is where 'trekker tours' are launched into the backroads of the former plantations. Recent Archeological efforts have unearthed the foundations of several buildings at 'The Oaks' plantation.[citation needed] Ponds have been created from the former 'Brookgreen' plantation house sites.

Natural areasEdit

The Atlantic Coast side was later leased[citation needed] to South Carolina to form Huntington Beach State Park. There are boat tours with views of Sandy Island and a self-guided tour nature trail to show off the 2000 identified species of life, including majestic longleaf pines, Spanish moss draped live oaks, and vistas of the river and nearby marshland. The gardens make every effort to preserve the natural environment.

Nights of a Thousand CandlesEdit

Every year, the Brookgreen gardens are lit up with more than 2,700 hand lit candles and countless lights set among the plants, trees and sculptures of the garden. Tickets for the same are available every year for visitors.

Awards and recognitionsEdit

  • Top 10 Public Gardens in the US by Coastal Living Magazine[8]
  • American Public Gardens Association Award for Garden Excellence, 2019[9]
  • Gari Melchers Memorial Medal from the Artists’ Fellowship, 2018[10]
  • USAToday 10Best - #9 in Best Botanical Garden category, 2018[11]
  • USAToday 10Best - Nights of a Thousand Candles  Top 10 in Best Botanical Garden Holiday Lights category, 2018[12]

See alsoEdit

Photo galleryEdit


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. January 23, 2007.
  2. ^ "gardens". Brookgreen Gardens. Archived from the original on June 28, 2012. Retrieved June 12, 2012.\
  3. ^ Salmon, Robin R. (2006). Brookgreen Gardens. Charleston, SC: Arcadia. ISBN 0738542946.
  4. ^ "THE SIXTEEN LARGEST AMERICAN SLAVEHOLDERS FROM 1860 SLAVE CENSUS SCHEDULES". Archived from the original on 2013-07-19. Retrieved 2013-11-05.
  5. ^ "Atalaya and Brookgreen Gardens". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-02-15.
  6. ^ Jill S. Mesirow and Page Putnam Miller (April 15, 1992). "National Historic Landmark Nomination: Atalaya and Brookgreen Gardens" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2009-06-22. Cite journal requires |journal= (help) and Accompanying 26 photos, exterior and interior, from 1992 (2.63 MB)
  7. ^ Proske, Beatrice Gilman, Brookgreen Gardens Sculpture: Volume II. The Trustees, Brookgreen Gardens, 1955
  8. ^ Millburg, Steve. "Top 10 public gardens". Coastal Living Magazine.
  9. ^ reports, From staff. "Brookgreen Gardens receives American Public Gardens Association's 2019 Award for Garden Excellence". South Strand News. Retrieved 2019-11-01.
  10. ^ "Artists' Fellowship | National Sculpture Society". Retrieved 2019-11-01.
  11. ^ "Best Botanical Garden Winners: 2018 10Best Readers' Choice Travel Awards". 10Best. Retrieved 2019-11-01.
  12. ^ "Best Botanical Garden Holiday Lights Winners: 2018 10Best Readers' Choice Travel Awards". 10Best. Retrieved 2019-11-01.

External linksEdit