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Brookgreen Gardens, Georgetown County, South Carolina

Fighting Stallions sculpture by Anna Hyatt Huntington at Brookgreen Gardens
Photo by Hisland7 available on wikimedia

Visited by thousands of tourists each year, Brookgreen Gardens is known today as a botanical and sculpture garden. Dedicated to the preservation of natural life and sculpture as museum and garden. The gardens are open to the public throughout the year. The Brookgreen Gardens property was part of an early rice plantation system that developed on the banks of the Waccamaw River in the eighteenth century; William Allston (1738-1781) developed the land into a plantation ca. 1760. He was the father of Washington Allston, the well-known American artist. Joseph Alston, buried here, was Governor of South Carolina from 1812 to 1814 and was drawn into the southwestern conspiracy of his close friend, Aaron Burr. Robert F. W. Allston, born here in 1801, was Governor of South Carolina from 1856 to 1858. He was a noted agricultural engineer. Other significant persons associated with the plantations on the Brookgreen property include Joshua Ward, a noted agriculturalist who developed large-grain rice, and Julia Peterkin, a frequent visitor to the plantation and author of the Pulitzer Prize winning Scarlet Sister Mary. In addition, Brookgreen Gardens' founders, Archer Milton Huntington and Anna Hyatt Huntington, were important figures in the development of the American arts.

[Photo]Tortoise Fountain, by Janet Scudder.
Photo by Doug Coldwell available on wikimeida

Brookgreen was sold in January 1930 to Archer Milton Huntington, who with his wife, Anna Hyatt Huntington, developed Brookgreen Gardens as a garden and sculpture museum. Incorporated as an charity organization in 1931, Brookgreen Gardens has
been called, by  the National Sculpture Review,(12, No. 2, Summer 1963, p. 18) "Brookgreen Gardens, America's Largest Outdoor Museum of Sculpture," and "the largest and most representative collection of American sculpture on exhibit anywhere in the world and the largest showing of sculpture in an outdoor setting in the United States." Although the Gardens were originally envisioned as a showplace for Mrs. Huntington’s sculpture, the Huntingtons’ quickly broadened their plans to include representative pieces of American sculpture from the 19th and 20th centuries. The Gardens currently include some 390 pieces of sculpture by 180 different artists. These include works by such figures as John Quincy Adams Ward, Augustus St. Gaudens, Louis St. Gaudens, Frederick William MacMonnies, Daniel Chester French, George Grey Barnard, Frederick Remington, Henry Clews, Jr., Malvina Hoffman, and Katherine Lane Weems.

However, the name most intimately associated with Brookgreen Gardens continues to be that of Anna Hyatt Huntington, its co-founder, and the noted premier American sculptress of her time. Aside from her many other accomplishments, Mrs. Huntington was an honorary fellow of the National Sculpture Society, a member of the National Association of Women Artists, the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Academy of Design. Widely recognized in her field, she received many prizes including the Saltus Medal, the Spanish Gold Cross of Alfonso XII and the French Legion of Honor. At Brookgreen, representative examples of Anna Hyatt Huntington's many sculptures include Diana and the Chase (1922), Jaguar Eating and In Memory of a Workhorse. Mrs. Huntington also designed various entrance and garden gates for Brookgreen.

A5' statue in bronze titled "Faun" by Leo Lentelli located at Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina, USA.
Photograph by Hisland available on Wikimedia

Brookgreen Gardens lies between the Waccamaw River and U.S. Highway 17, in a forest of mixed hardwoods, pines, and semi tropical plants. Designed to preserve the indigenous flora and fauna of the southeast, the Gardens contain close to 1,000 different species and variations of plants. Especially notable among these species are certain rare hollies of the cassia group.

The sculpture garden area was designed by Anna Hyatt Huntington without the aid of a landscape architect. In designing the gardens, Mrs. Huntington used the existing
environment to a great extent. The avenue of oaks from the 18th century forms the central axis of the gardens, and the center of the gardens contains remnants of an 18th century garden in the form of some remaining boxwood trees. As the first step in the development of the gardens, Archer Huntington constructed a serpentine open-work brick wall to define the limits of the garden area. Mrs. Huntington then designed a series of pathways in the form of a butterfly with outspread wings. All of these pathways wind around the central space that was the site of the Brookgreen plantation house.

The Huntingtons’ also designed an unusual water system which was based on the water systems
of the Spanish Arabs who ruled large sections of that nation in the medieval era. The central fountain pool, over the original house site in the center of the gardens, is the center of an irrigation system for 14 other pools in the main gardens and a pool in the Palmetto Gardens. When the pumps run, river water from nearby canals flows over the front of the pool (2 to 3 feet deep), where it reaches the other pools by gravity in lead lined troughs. Envisioning the Gardens as a symbiotic blend of nature and art, the Huntingtons’ designed the landscape architecture especially as a setting for outdoor sculpture.

[Photo]Brookgreen Gardens - sculpture garden
Photographer unknown, available on wikimedia,

Archer Milton Huntington (1870-1955) was a poet, scholar, philanthropist and patron of the arts. Independently wealthy and unusually generous, he has been called the greatest benefactor in the history of American sculpture. Huntington made important contributions to at least 37 national cultural institutions, including the American Geographical Society, the American Institute of Arts and Letters and the National Academy of Design. Named Director of the American Academy of the Arts in 1922, Huntington consistently fostered the growth of American cultural institutions and encouraged emerging American artists.

The nominated property includes that part of the area zoned Marshland Preservation
on the east side of the Waccamaw River, its northern, southern and eastern boundaries
being drawn on the 1974 Brookgreen Gardens Land Use Plan. The western boundary of this
area extends from the northwest tip of Oaks Island running parallel to the western
boundary of the western Historic Preservation area, to the southern boundary line of the
Marshland Preservation area. The nominated area has been indicated on the enclosed copy
of the 1974 Brookgreen Gardens Land Use Plan.

Some of the details on Anna Hyatt Huntington are taken from The Huntington’s, found at the Brookgreen Gardens website at http://www.brookgreen.org/huntington.cfm.  The rest is from the National Register of Historic Places documentation on  Atalaya prepared by Daniel Ray Sigmon, Historic Researcher for the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism on March 20, 1984, and the National Register of Historic Places documentation on Brookgreen Gardens by Kathy Kelly  (Waccamaw Regional Planning and Development Council) John Califf and Julie Burr for the South Carolina. Department of Archives and History, February 4, 1978

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