Brookgreen Gardens – Murrells Inlet, South Carolina

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Brookgreen Gardens is one of South Carolina’s most beloved landmarks. Located just south of Murrells Inlet in Georgetown County, this historic sculpture garden and wildlife preserve is a favorite destination for locals and visitors alike.

Brookgreen Gardens SC

Ralph Preston of Murrells Inlet, 2010 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The land that comprises Brookgreen Gardens was originally inhabited by the Waccamaw Indians, but was developed into four separate rice plantations in the 1700s: Brookgreen Plantation, Laurel Hill Plantation, Oaks Plantation, and Springfield Plantation.

Brookgreen Gardens Live Oaks

SCIWAY, 2008 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

In 1930, philanthropists Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington purchased over 9,000 acres of land (including the former plantations) stretching from the Waccamaw River to the Atlantic Ocean.

SC Brookgreen Gardens

Ralph Preston of Murrells Inlet, 2010 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

This purchase included the beachfront property that would later become Huntington Beach State Park. The beauty and history of the land prompted the Huntingtons to establish the first public sculpture garden in the United States.

Brookgreen Sculpture

John Bellemore of Summerville, 2013 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The heart of Brookgreen Gardens is the Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington Sculpture Garden, which boasts a collection of more than 1,400 works from over 350 world-famous artists. Many of the works were created by co-founder Anna Hyatt Huntington, who was a master sculptress and member of the National Sculpture Society. The sculpture garden was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1992.

Brookgreen Gardens Pond and Olive Jar

SCIWAY, 2008 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Brookgreen’s 1931 charter established it as “A Society for Southeastern Flora and Fauna,” and today you can observe a variety of animals in the garden’s zoo. In addition to native wildlife, such as river otters and fox squirrels, you can also see domestic animals common to colonial South Carolina, such as Red Devon Milking Cows and Tunis Sheep. The zoo also features several aviaries, a fox glade, a white-tailed deer savannah, and an alligator swamp.

Brookgreen Gardens Zoo

SCIWAY, 2008 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The E. Craig Wall, Jr. Lowcountry Center backs up to the Waccamaw River and leads to the Lowcountry Trail. Visitors can stroll along the boardwalk and view Mainfield, a restored rice field that belonged to the former rice plantation. Boat excursions along the river are also available from March through November.

Brookgreen Gardens Boat

Gregg Turbeville of Myrtle Beach, 2014 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Each December the gardens open for a holiday event called Night of a Thousand Candles, a spectacular display of candles and lights viewed at every turn throughout the grounds. Though the zoo is closed for this event, the gardens stay open until 10:00 p.m. for this incredible exhibit.

Brookgreen Gardens Lights

Austin Bond of Murrells Inlet, 2014 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

All ticket purchases go towards supporting Brookgreen Gardens, a nonprofit organization with the mission of promoting and displaying figurative sculpture by American artists and preserving regional plants, animals, and history.

Brookgreen Gardens is listed in the National Register:

Brookgreen Gardens is known today as a botanical and sculpture garden. The nominated portion of the Gardens covers 1600 acres and includes three 18th and 19th century plantation sites, old plantation rice fields, and garden areas complete with sculpture. The property has significance in multiple areas, including art, archeology, agriculture, landscape architecture, military, politics/government, cemeteries, and social history. The Brookgreen Gardens property was part of an early rice plantation system that developed on the banks of the Waccamaw River in the 18th century.

William Allston (1738-1781) developed the land into a plantation ca. 1760. He was the father of internationally noted artist Washington Allston, born here in 1779. Joseph Allston, Governor of South Carolina from 1812 to 1814 is buried here. Robert F.W. Allston, born here in 1801, was Governor of South Carolina from 1856 to 1858. Other persons associated with the plantations on the Brookgreen property include Joshua Ward, a noted agriculturist who developed long-grain rice, and Pulitzer Prize winning author Julia Peterkin. Brookgreen Garden’s founders, Archer Milton Huntington and Anna Hyatt Huntington, purchased the property in 1930 and developed it into a garden and sculpture museum. Anna Hyatt Huntington was a well-known sculptor, and some of her work is included in the gardens she designed. The site is considered to be the largest outdoor museum of sculpture in the United States.

Reflections on Brookgreen Gardens

Contributor Gregg Turbeville shares about his photo above: “Although Brookgreen Gardens is a well-known sculpture garden and wildlife preserve, there are still some areas that provide a glimpse of the rustic lowcountry life. This picture taking at the boat landing near the Wall Lowcountry Center looks like a slice of southern life with the Boston Whaler, wooden dock, and the beautiful Live Oak tree.”

Add your own reflections here.

Brookgreen Gardens Info

Address: 1931 Brookgreen Drive, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576

Brookgreen Gardens Map

Brookgreen Gardens – Add Info and More Photos

The purpose of the South Carolina Picture Project is to celebrate the beauty of the Palmetto State and create a permanent digital repository for our cultural landmarks and natural landscapes. We invite you to add additional pictures (paintings, photos, etc) of Brookgreen Gardens, and we also invite you to add info, history, stories, and travel tips. Together, we hope to build one of the best and most loved SC resources in the world!

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3 Comments about Brookgreen Gardens

Andrew S. Mensing says:
April 16th, 2015 at 6:53 pm

My Grandma and Grandpa Shoff brought me here when I was a very young boy. I can't wait to see this heavenly place again with my wife.

Virginia MacdonaldNo Gravatar says:
August 11th, 2013 at 3:38 pm

It was the most beautiful place I have visited. Archer and Anna were truly visionaries. What a legacy they have left to the world for thousands of people to enjoy. It would be a dream to live close to the BrookGreen Gardens.

Carolyn WheatonNo Gravatar says:
April 30th, 2012 at 5:37 pm

I will never forget the beauty of all the grounds. When my daughter-in-law and I were leaving, we saw a squirrel with a white face, head, and tail. I have never seen anything so beautiful! My visit was a retirement gift from my son and daughter-in-law — something I will never forget.


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