Auldbrass Plantation Tour Volunteers
The Wright Stuff
When visitors from all over the world arrive at Auldbrass Plantation for tours, virtually every personal interaction from the time they step out of their vehicle until the time they get back into their vehicle is with an Auldbrass volunteer. The golf cart drivers, the check-in assistants, every docent and main house guide and many others all chose to give generously of their time, skills and knowledge to welcome these visitors through the Auldbrass gate and to make each person’s visit as rewarding as possible. These volunteers are the faces and voices of the Auldbrass experience, and it is only through the support of this dedicated army of volunteers that the Open Land Trust is able to offer public tours of Auldbrass Plantation.
This year the mighty team serving as 2017’s Auldbrass Volunteer Coordinators was Donna Dehncke and Mary Savage, also volunteers. These friends share a strong commitment to supporting the Land Trust in its biennial fundraising endeavor, and offered to manage this intensive human resource effort last spring. Their complementary skillsets united to manage this project – Donna’s management and logistical skills (Mary calls her the “spreadsheet guru”) added to Mary’s firsthand familiarity of Auldbrass gained while accompanying her mother, renowned garden designer, Frances Parker to work at the Auldbrass garden.
"Why did I volunteer?
It makes me feel like part of the community"
Planning this volunteer effort is complex, to say the least. Twenty-nine different volunteer positions must be filled, depending upon a volunteer’s particular experience, expertise or qualifications. Positions include main house tour guides, docents stationed at 16 separate locations on the property (with corresponding docent notes), check in assistants, merchandise cashiers, and golf cart drivers. A morning shift and an afternoon shift is scheduled for each tour day, each shift requiring 55 volunteers. By September a total of 220 volunteer shifts were scheduled for November 4-5. However - in the midst of that task, Donna and Mary were presented with an unexpected challenge - an additional weekend of tours – leading to a mad scramble to fill the additional 220 volunteer shifts required for November 11-12.
Our local community responded immediately to the need, volunteering to welcome visitors to Auldbrass with Southern hospitality, local history and culture. While the first weekend included a number of longtime volunteers that travelled from out-of-state, the second weekend’s volunteer force was comprised primarily of members from our community. A mixture of first-timers and old hands, the volunteers brought enthusiasm and energy to their Auldbrass work shifts. Their reasons for volunteering are many, including “the opportunity to experience FLW’s fascinating body of work” (Jane Ford), “It is enthralling to see his beautiful work up close” (Dorothy Shaphorst) and “It’s fun to meet people and find out where they come from” (Charlene and Jim Schufelt).
Auldbrass Plantation tours help to support the Open Land Trust’s work to further land conservation in our region and supports the local economy by attracting a significant number of overnight visitors. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Donna and Mary for their dedication, hard work and unwavering support of OLT, and to each and every one of the volunteers that participated in this collective community experience to share FLW’s legacy in the Lowcountry with the world.
to JOEL SILVER
Beaufort County Open Land Trust wishes to express gratitude to Mr. Joel Silver for his immeasurable generosity since purchasing Auldbrass Plantation approximately 30 years ago. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1939, the Auldbrass Plantation buildings, consisting of the main house, kennels, stables, barn and various outbuildings, were constructed by the late C. Leigh Stevens who called on Wright to design a self-sufficient modern plantation for farming, hunting and entertaining. Stevens owned Auldbrass until his death in 1962, when it passed on to his daughter, Jessica Stevens Loring. After several subsequent owners, the plantation was purchased by Mr. Silver, a long-time admirer of Frank Lloyd Wright. Silver’s work includes, but is not limited to, constructing parts of Wright’s plan which were not realized when the plantation was originally built, so that for the first time in its history, Auldbrass is architecturally complete, thus fulfilling Wright’s and Stevens’ dream and making Auldbrass a great architectural treasure.
The success of Beaufort County Open Land Trust, to provide leadership in protecting and preserving open space in the Lowcountry, can be directly attributed to this rare opportunity to host tours of Auldbrass … a brilliant example of Mr. Wright’s ability to combine his interpretation of a southern plantation while keeping with his theories of organic architecture … to be in harmony with the landscape of which it is part. Constructed of native cypress boards laid diagonally at 80 degree angles and held by brass screws, the exterior is intended to conform to the lean of indigenous live oak trees, while the abstract forms of ornamental rainspouts suggest hanging clumps of Spanish moss. Since 1989, Beaufort County Open Land Trust has benefitted from what has now evolved into a most successful biennial fundraiser weekend, with tickets selling out within hours of placing them on sale. Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiasts arrive from all over the United States to participate in this event.
Thank you, Mr. Silver, for allowing so many to experience Frank Lloyd Wright’s genius. Thank you for being such a generous member of our community.
OFFSHORE DRILLING IN SOUTH CAROLINA
- In April 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at opening the Atlantic to offshore oil and gas exploration, directing the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to review regulations and permitting for seismic air gun blasting and offshore drilling leases.
- The South Carolina House established an ad hoc committee to look into the matter and make recommendations, although the final decision rests with the federal government.
- On November 28, at the committee’s last public hearing before the Legislature convenes, a number of prominent mayors and elected municipal leaders, including City of Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling testified in opposition to seismic testing, offshore drilling and development of onshore oil facilities.
WHAT’S AT RISK:
- South Carolina’s environment and thriving tourism industry with its annual economic impact exceeding $20 billion.
- Between 1964 and 2015, BOEM estimates that approximately 5.2 million barrels of oil have been spilled during offshore drilling operations in U.S. waters – an average of over 80,000 gallons of oil spilled every week for 51 years. An oil spill of any size would be devastating to South Carolina’s tourism and agriculture based economy, particularly in coastal communities.
"What city, what beach, what town
are you willing to destroy?"
-Folly Beach Mayor Tim Goodwin testifying
before the ad hoc committee on November 28
ECONOMIC BENEFITS OF LAND CONSERVATION REPORT TO BE PRESENTED TO COUNTY COUNCIL
On January 22, 2018, the Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the Open Land Trust will present the results of a highly anticipated analysis and report documenting “The Economic Benefits of Parks, Trails and Conserved Open Spaces in Beaufort County” to Beaufort County Council. TPL’s Conservation Economics team, with extensive national experience in measuring the economic benefits and fiscal impacts of land conservation, collaborated with OLT to research these benefits in Beaufort County in 2017, including the benefits resulting from properties protected through the Rural and Critical Lands Preservation Program. These quantitative analyses show how land protection enhances property values, attracts visitors to the county, provides recreational opportunities, boosts economic development and provide valuable ecosystem services such as stormwater infiltration and air pollution reduction, among other benefits.
As a strong supporter of land conservation, please join us at the Beaufort County Council meeting on January 22 for this important presentation. This report reinforces the importance of OLT’s past and continuing work, and confirms that land conservation is a vital component in our healthy, flourishing community.
Land Trust Accreditation
At a time of political change, one thing is clear and consistent: Americans strongly support saving the open spaces they love. Since 1971 Beaufort County Open Land Trust has been doing just that for the people of the Lowcountry. And, since 2016, it has been doing so as an accredited land trust. Today we are proud to welcome an additional 17 land trusts into the growing network of accredited land trusts across the nation that have proven their commitment to professional excellence and to maintaining the public’s trust in their work. Almost 20 million acres of farms, forests and natural areas vital to healthy communities are now permanently conserved by an accredited land trust.
Barbara G. Holmes
Attorney Barbara Holmes joined the Open Land Trust as Director of Land Protection in July 2017. She administers Beaufort County’s Rural and Critical Land Preservation Program and works with land owners, partners and stake holders to identify easement or fee acquisition priorities and opportunities for the Trust. She gained a passion for land conservation while serving as staff attorney for Lowcountry Land Trust in Charleston from 2008 to 2017. In her spare time she is a dedicated volunteer at the Avian Conservation Center in Awendaw, SC.
Farewell to Lisa Lord
We were sorry to say farewell to Lisa Lord in May but we wish her the best in her exciting new endeavors. Lisa is pursuing her second Master’s degree (Wildlife and Fisheries Biology, Clemson University) and is working fulltime for The Longleaf Alliance coordinating its red-cockaded woodpecker and gopher tortoise projects in SC. Her job also includes working with landowners in wildlife and natural resources management and conservation easement projects associated with the Savannah River Clean Water Fund. In addition, Lisa is also the recently- elected President of the South Carolina Native Plant Society. Lisa worked as OLT’s Director of Conservation and R & C Program Coordinator for 5 years, bringing passionate energy to her work and assisting as OLT went through the LTA Accreditation process. In 2015, Lisa represented OLT at the LTA Rally, co-presenting a workshop about OLT’s work leading the public education campaign for the successful 2014 Rural and Critical Land Program’s bond referendum. This case study was cited as a model for local conservation funding campaigns and for effective advocacy by land trusts. Lisa was a tremendous asset to our organization, and we are glad that she is continuing her valuable contributions to Lowcountry conservation.
Rural & Critical Land Preservation Program
FOUR CRITICAL PARCELS PURCHASED IN 2017
“ When residents approve Rural and Critical Land bonds, this is the type of project they support. The biggest return on this investment is the generations of people who will make memories at this park for years to come.”
PAIGE POINT CEMETERY contains a .82-acre African-American cemetery that has been active since 1855. This parcel is 1.83 acres in northern Beaufort County and is bounded on one side by the marshes of Huspah Creek. A recent plat showed the existence of 45 graves on the tract; however it is likely the tract contains additional graves that have not been identified. Although it was a significant archeological, cultural and historic site and was identified in the County’s 1997 Above Ground Historic Resources Survey, the cemetery was under threat of destruction. The purchase of this parcel with RCLPP funds ensures ownership and management stability for the site, laying the groundwork for further archeological research on this historic cemetery.
The purchase of the .85-acre parcel on Boundary Street where the TIGER MART EXPRESS was located moves the City, the County and the Open Land Trust one step closer to the City of Beaufort’s long-planned seven-acre linear park along Battery Creek. Our organizations are working together to improve the scenic vista on this primary entrance into the City of Beaufort, and to date, five properties have been purchased and the existing buildings have been or will be removed to provide greenspace and views of Battery Creek.
The 1.9-acre LITTLE POINT PARCEL, adjacent to County-owned Pinckney Point Preserve, was purchased to add value to and protect the entrance to the Preserve. Long-term protection of the Pinckney Colony Road corridor has been a successful undertaking for the program, with RCLPP funds being used to purchase Pinckney Colony Park, Pinckney Point Preserve and a conservation easement on Calhoun Plantation. The purchase of Little Point also continues to protect the conservation values of the Okatie and Colleton Rivers which are socially, economically, and environmentally important waterways, including water quality and scenic views.
Beaufort County and The Town of Bluffton partnered to purchase the SQUIRE POPE CARRIAGE HOUSE, built circa 1850. The property, on the river adjacent to the Calhoun Street Public Dock and across the street from Church of the Cross, is both historically and culturally significant. The House is one of the few structures in the Bluffton Historic District to survive the 1863 “Burning of Bluffton” by the Union Army during the Civil War. Future plans for the property involve converting it into a passive park to provide additional public access to the May River for residents and visitors. The Town also expects to rehabilitate the Squire Pope Carriage House similar to what it has done to rehabilitate the Garvin House at nearby Oyster Factory Park. As Lisa Lord explains, “When residents approve Rural and Critical Land bonds, this is the type of project they support. The biggest return on this investment is the generations of people who will make memories at this park for years to come.”
SOUTH CAROLINA CONSERVATION BANK AT RISK
- The South Carolina Conservation Bank (SCCB) will sunset in 2018 if the General Assembly doesn’t take action to renew it.
- Gov. Henry McMaster has ordered an investigation of the Bank, questioning how it operates and spends money.
WHAT’S AT STAKE:
- The Bank is South Carolina’s most important state tool for land conservation.
- Nearly 300,000 acres of forests, wetlands, historic sites, farms, and urban parks have been protected in bargain sale transactions by the Bank since 2002.
- The Bank is South Carolina’s last line of defense against development that threatens the natural resources and special places that fuel the state’s natural resource-based economy.
- Land conservation is essential to protecting South Carolina’s clean air and water for the long term.
Marguerite Broz, John M. Trask Jr., Betty Waskiewicz
Trish Irwin - President
Garrett Wreden - Vice President
Beek Webb - Secretary
Einar Trosdal - Treasurer
Patricia Anne Denkler, Alison Guilloud, Hampton Long, Dean Moss,
Katie Phifer, Alex Shuford,
Denise Sullivan, John Trask III
Cindy Baysden - Executive Director
Barbara Holmes, Director of Land Protection
Debbie Quirin - Administrative Assistant
A Gentle Reminder
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