Photo by Green Eyes Aero
Drayton Hall Marsh Tracts, 104 acres, Charleston County
This is the story of the land across the river from Drayton Hall, a National Historic Landmark and National Trust Historic Site that lies along the Ashley River in Charleston. This is a story in which landscape conservation and historic preservation are two sides of the very same coin.
In 1994 and 1996, The National Trust for Historic Preservation purchased the 104 acres directly across the Ashley River from Drayton Hall to protect the viewshed and historic context. Its purchase would ensure visitors standing at Drayton Hall’s 18th-century house wouldn’t turn their heads to find a 20th-century strip mall or office complex. The Drayton Hall Marsh Tracts include 4,600 feet of frontage on the Ashley River, as well as a semi-impounded marsh, originally constructed in the 1940s for waterfowl habitat.
On March 7, 2019, the Drayton Hall Preservation Trust, which owns Drayton Hall, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Lowcountry Land Trust announced the permanent protection and restoration of the marsh land through a conservation easement. Local environmental firm, Sabine and Waters has been contracted to break the dike in several areas to restore natural hydrology, plant native grasses and treat the invasive plant, Phragmites australis, to encourage the establishment of native plants.
Drayton Hall’s marsh tracts marked Lowcountry Land Trust’s 18th conservation easement on the Ashley River. Together, they protect 446 acres along this scenic waterway. The Drayton Hall Marsh Tracts conservation easement encourages open space for forestry and agriculture and provides protection of natural habitat. The property is located within the Ashley River Historic District, a 23,000-acre historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“Mitigating flooding, protecting our local water quality and maintaining our historic places are part of the daily dialogue in the Lowcountry,” says Ashley Demosthenes, president and chief executive officer, Lowcountry Land Trust. “We were excited to be a part of a project that not only provides permanent land protection, but also demonstrates what we can do together when we lean in to our partners.”