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Medway Plantation, 2010

view Medway Plantation, 2010 digital asset number 1
van der Gracht, Ides
Landscape architect:
Shipman, Ellen
Little Garden Club of Rye provenance
Physical description:
2 folders+ 2 35mm slides (photographs), 34 digital images
Mixed archival materials
United States of America, South Carolina, Berkeley County, Goose Creek
South Carolina
Goose Creek
Medway Plantation,(Goose Creek, South Carolina)
Medway Plantation comprises 6700 acres of longleaf and loblolly pine, live oaks, tupelo, swampland and lakes as well as the oldest masonry house in South Carolina. An ornamental garden with irregularly-shaped beds and serpentine paths, known as Miss Lou's garden, was redesigned in the 1930s by Ellen Biddle Shipman. The earlier garden was described as a bird sanctuary and nursery growing anise and Chinese bay trees, azaleas, fringe trees, roses, flowering almond, lilacs, spireas, myrtle, and yellow Jessamine, with wisteria growing up into deciduous trees. The surplus from Miss Lou's garden was planted in long borders alongside three shallow brick terraces, and along paths that led to a schoolhouse on the property. The current drive to the house has double borders of live oak trees hung with Spanish moss that were first planted after the Civil War. In the 1930s architect Ides van der Gracht designed a greenhouse with stepped gables, echoing that feature from the house, and added serpentine brick walls surrounding a garden of flowers and vegetables, on the site of the historic kitchen garden. Prior to the Civil War rice was cultivated at Medway Plantation, followed by cotton and the current crop, timber.
Medway Plantation was first organized as a land grant to Johan (or Jan) van Aerssen in the last quarter of the 17th century. He started the original house which during its long history was burned and rebuilt, nearly abandoned and used only as a hunting lodge, and finally renovated. The house has unusual stepped gables in the Dutch style, reflecting the van Aerssen heritage. After van Aerssen's death circa 1867 and the remarriage of his widow, Sabina de Vignon to Thomas Smith in 1689, the property came into the prominent South Carolina Smith family.
In the early days land parcels routinely were acquired and sold and the dimensions of Medway Plantation changed frequently, finally ending up at 6700 acres under the ownership of Sidney J. and Gertrude S. Legendre in the 20th century, who had purchased and annexed neighboring plantations. Before her death in 2000 Gertrude Legendre put the property in a non-profit foundation with a conservation easement to preserve the pine forests, wetlands, and wildlife. It is recognized as a breeding site for endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers, bald eagles, wood ducks and wintering ring-necked ducks, and provides habitat for deer, turkey and quail.
Persons associated with the garden include Johan van Aerssen (former owner and builder of original house, 1686-circa 1688); Sabina de Vignon, (former owner, 1688-1689); Thomas Smith and members of the Smith family (former owners, 1689-1701); Edward Hyrne (former owner, 1701-1711); Peter Gaillard Stoney and family (former owners, 1833-1930); Sidney J. and Gertrude Sanford Legendre (former owners, 1930-1993; Ides van Waterschoot van der Gracht (architect, 1930s); Ellen Biddle Shipman (landscape architect, 1930s).
Archives of American Gardens encourages the use of its archival materials for non-commercial, educational and personal use under the fair use provision of U.S. copyright law. Use or copyright restrictions may exist. It is incumbent upon the researcher to ascertain copyright status and assume responsibility for usage. All requests for duplication and use must be submitted in writing and approved by Archives of American Gardens.
The Little Garden Club of Rye facilitated the submission of this garden's documentation.
The folder includes worksheets, site plans, plant lists, and photocopies of articles.
This property is featured in Carolina Gardens by E.T.H.Shaffer, Garden Club Edition, the University of North Carolina Press, 1939; Gardens of Colony and State, Volume 2, published in 1934 and in 2000; Lowcountry Plantations Today by William P. Baldwin, Second Edition, 2000; "Gertie's Ghost" by Andrew Rice published in the New York Times Magazine, October 16, 2011, pp. 70-72
Repository Loc.:
Smithsonian Gardens, PO Box 37012, Capital Gallery, Suite 3300, MRC 506, Washington, DC 20013-7012
Local number:
Data Source:
Archives of American Gardens

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