Bray's Island; SC
Late last week I heading upriver to try to see what had become of some of the old rice plantations in South Carolina. It turns out many of them are tightly gated and very difficult to get access to. But thanks to Paul Burton, partner at Bray's Island, I was able to get access to undoubtedly one of the nicest of them all.
I am sure many of you who have caught glimpses of those tree-lined avenues hiding behind gates and fences wondered where they went. Well, today we will wander back this lane to the main house. You will notice that this section of Live Oaks, although it is a very long one, is relatively young. These oaks were not planted until the 1940's. A mere 70 years old - toddlers in oak years.
About a mile back the road, you cross a large series of old rice paddies - and you will notice that he dikes and flood gates are not only operational, but basically brand new.
A bit further, you pass the heart of the farm, the series of barns, stables, and even an old grain silo that is still intact. Of course, no plantation barn is complete without some carriages...
Then, after passing through a few more fields, you arrive at the gate. This leads down another "avenue of oaks" to a circle.
And, you are home. The site that this home sits on yielded the remains of ancient Indian civilizations as well as all manner of artifacts from the original plantation house that stood here.
This house was built in the late 1930's; the original plantation was burned by one of Sherman's bands. The theme was hunting, as you will see from the murals on all the walls of the foyer.
Then by a living room and the study, and you are at the back door.
Outside lie more grand oaks, these of the multi-century old variety. Turning right off of the back patio takes you through a garden and out onto a boat dock for a great view of the river.
Turning left off of the patio takes you down a brick pathway shaded by a rose arbor and opens to a modern swimming pool and tennis club.
Or, you could just sit on one of the patio chairs and watch the sun set over the river.
But this is a 5,500 acre area, and we have only been through 50 acres of it at most. Tomorrow we will see why the development of the rest of the island has been called "The most sophisticated residential design area in the southeastern United States." And I don't think you will find it an exaggeration.
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