Friday, July 24, 2009

Cypress Gardens, Part III

As with most places in the South, there is a lot of history at Cypress Gardens. Most recently, the property has been used to film a few movies, including The Patriot, for which this faux bridge facade was built. Scenes from The Notebook and Cold Mountain were also filmed here.

Originally, the property dates back to 1725 when it was purchased by Scotsman Alexander Nesbitt. He built Dean Hall here, and turned the property into a profitable rice plantation.

The property was handed down to the sons and grandsons of Nesbitt, who later sold it in 1821 to William Carson. After the Civil War, Carson's family couldn't restore the plantation to productivity, and they considered selling it to Benjamin Kittredge of New York. Son James Carson was reluctant, however, to sell it to a sportsman who would only use it a few months a year. To resolve the situation, Kittredge paid Carson an annuity every year for the rest of Carson's life - which was longer than anyone expected. James gave up drinking to live as long as possible, much to Kittredge's dismay.

Kittredge had the idea to plant the grounds with flowers, and he and his wife took classes at Harvard to learn more about landscaping and botany. They made it a place that others wanted to see, and opened the gardens to the public in 1932.

Kittredge died in 1951. His son sold the property in 1963 to the city of Charleston for $1, stipulating that it must always be open to the public. In 1989, Hurricane Hugo destroyed much of the landscape of the area, and Cypress Gardens was devestated by the loss of hundreds of trees and all of its buildings.

It reopened two years later, but park attendance was down from its high point in the middle of the century, and I imagine it was costing the city quite a bit to maintain. So in 1996 Charleston handed it over to Berkeley County to maintain, which only makes sense as it is located in Berkeley County. Berkeley County built a small aquarium, a butterfly house and began hosting events. My high school prom was held there, and it was so very lovely.


  1. These are awesome, Victoria! Fantastic photos and a wonderful post.
    Love this.

  2. These are great!! my favorite one is #2 and #4

  3. Lovely pictures. The bridge is really cool. And I like the history of the property as well.