Hopelands Gardens – Aiken, South Carolina
South Carolina | SC Picture Project | Aiken County Photos | Hopelands Gardens
Hopelands Gardens is a beautiful 14-acre garden located a few blocks from downtown Aiken. The property boasts many varieties of local flora and is known for its enormous and elegant oak trees. The estate was once a farm in the nineteenth century; when Charles Oliver Iselin and his wife, Hope, purchased the property in 1897, it was converted into an Aiken oasis for the wealthy New York couple who had previously spent winters in Aiken, usually renting Rye Patch for their visits.
The Iselins were a sporting couple who brought their love for Thoroughbred racing to Aiken, considered the Horse Capital of the South. They were also noted philanthropists, both in their home state of New York and in Aiken. For a time Hope Iselin ran the Martha Schofield School in Aiken, established to educate African American girls. The couple also founded the Aiken Hospital and Relief Society in 1917 and also commissioned the Old Aiken Hospital, built by African-American contractors McGhee and McGhee.
Charles Oliver Iselin died in 1932, and Hope Iselin continued serving the communities she loved until her death in 1970. She bequeathed her estate to the City of Aiken; however, she allowed the gardens to be opened to the public in 1969, prior to her death. Paths shaded by ancient oak trees wind through the many gardens, grassy fields, ponds, and wetlands, allowing visitors to get lost in the natural beauty of Hopelands.
‘The Dollhouse,’ seen above, is a popular attraction at Hopelands Gardens. It was the former playhouse and schoolhouse of the Iselin children. Mrs. Iselin famously ordered it straight from the Sears & Roebuck catalog in the early 1900s, and it still stands today. The Aiken Garden Club Council now uses it for meetings and decorates it for the Christmas holidays. Other attractions in the gardens include the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and the Carriage Museum.
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Hopelands Gardens Info
Address: 135 Dupree Place, Aiken, SC 29801
GPS Coordinates: 33.547807,-81.723648
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