Voted the Best Place to See by Condé Nast Traveler.


Drayton Hall Announces The Oaks Acquisition for Conservation

Carter C. Hudgins, Conservation, Horticulture, Landscape, The Oaks

The historic allee of The Oaks. No buildings remain on the property.

Drayton Hall Preservation Trust is pleased to announce the acquisition of the historic The Oaks property located to the north of Drayton Hall between the Ashley River Road and the Ashley River. Made possible through the leadership of the Open Space Institute (OSI) and Lowcountry Land Trust, this acquisition is a significant conservation victory within South Carolina’s Ashley River Historic District. With the protection of The Oaks property, which has now been conveyed to Drayton Hall Preservation Trust following the establishment of a conservation easement held by the Lowcountry Land Trust, the project has successfully secured one of the last and largest unprotected landholdings within one of America’s most threatened historic districts.

The 204-acre tract features saltwater wetlands, mature freshwater maritime forest, and uplands containing a mature live oak allee. Protection of the land will permanently safeguard a critical tract important for the health of the Ashley River. OSI initially purchased the property from Evening Post Industries using funds from the South Carolina Conservation Bank (SCCB), the National Coastal Wetlands Grant Program of the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), Drayton Hall Preservation Trust, and Dorchester Preservation Trust.  Once placed under easement with the Lowcountry Land Trust, the property was then transferred to Drayton Hall Preservation Trust.

The 25,000-acre Ashley River Historic District is experiencing intense development pressure. Today, an estimated 3,000 acres of priority unprotected land exist within the region. Placing The Oaks tract under the protective auspices of Drayton Hall Preservation Trust assures this land will remain undeveloped and that the river in turn, will be provided environmental safeguards. This is an important step in our work to preserve the Ashley River Historic Corridor.

The Oaks property was originally owned by the Cattell family from the late 17th or early 18th century.  The Cattell’s were some of the earliest European residents of the Ashley River Historic District and owned a number of properties stretching across the Lowcountry.  In fact, John Drayton’s first wife, Sarah Cattell, was likely born on The Oaks plantation.  The Cattell family name nearly disappeared following the American Civil War, and the oaks saw a period of phosphate mining before Pierre Manigault (1927-2004) purchased the property in the mid-20th century as part of the holdings maintained by Evening Post Industries. With time research, more information will be forthcoming as we work to better understand and protect this important cultural and historical resource.

“It is a great relief that we will be able to protect and preserve the the Oaks plantation.” Said Carter C. Hudgins, President and CEO of Drayton Hall Preservation Trust. “Within its boundaries are the cultural and ecological history of the Ashley River and Charleston. Our mission is to protect and conserve the environment of Drayton Hall and we feel the weight of that responsibility acutely. That the Oaks is now safe through the remarkable work of our partnership with OSI and the Lowcountry Land Trust is an important step towards protecting the Ashley River region and we are most grateful for their partnership.”

The generous support of the Friends of Drayton Hall was instrumental in protecting The Oaks, forever. There is much left to protect though, and we ask your continued support in protecting our historic surroundings as we continue the march to protect and preserve the Ashley River Historic District.


Map details above and below: Smith, H.A.M.. 1988 Rivers and Regions of Early South Carolina, Articles from the South Carolina Historical (and Genealogical) Magazine. Volume II. The Reprint Company, Publishers, Spartanburg, SC. Map detail modified by Carter C. Hudgins.

must see places in charleston sc