Over the past twelve months, the Hutchinson House Project has moved forward with many significant events. We have been awarded a number of grants, we have received a detailed condition report, we have a completed an archaeological survey of the site, we have added to the house historical documentation, we have moved forward with fundraising plans, and we
have just put out a bid package to contractors for completion of stabilization and weatherization of the structure.

To date, we have received three grants for a total of $105,000. The first was a SHPO (State Historic Preservation Office) grant for $15,000 for a condition and remediation report that was completed September 2019. The second was a Johanna Favrot Foundation grant for $5,000 to preserve, restore or build new windows for the entire house. The third grant was the large
AACHAF (African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund) for $85,000 to complete the stabilization, weatherization and safe access for the Hutchinson House structure. The last two grants are administered by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. On March 2nd we submitted a grant application to the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Historical Interiors Fund for $15,000 to develop a preservation plan, materials analysis and display plan for the house interior. The inside of Hutchinson House is in remarkably good condition and nearly the same as when the house was first built.

The ‘Existing Conditions and Recommendations Report’ was completed by Simons Young + Associates, 4SE Structural Engineers (John Moore) and Hillary King (Preservation Consultant). The report provides an assessment of the current conditions for all architectural elements of the structure, recommendations for restoration work and a preservation action plan to move ahead with the restoration along with a timeline and estimated costs. This same team has been hired to provide drawings, scope of work, and contractor qualification documents for requesting bids from experienced companies to complete the restoration work. The contract should be awarded in early May for a project start date of June 1. We have to have the project completed by December in order to receive all the grant dollars.

We have received an ‘Archaeological Survey and Interpretation of the Hutchinson House, Edisto Island’ from New South Associates. The principal investigator was Joe Joseph, PhD. A GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar) survey was completed in the near vicinity of the house and a Magnetic Gradiometer survey of the same general area was also completed. In addition, a Shovel Test of an extended area was completed which produced several interesting artifacts. In addition to locating building, garden and farmyard features, the survey may have located the site of the cotton gin that helped Henry Hutchinson prosper. The survey also discovered several
artifacts that indicate this site may have been “witness to continuous occupation” from possibly the end of the 17th century to early 18th century.

More history of the Hutchinson House and Hutchinson Family is being discovered. A title search was completed in February and we now have reasonable documentation that shows the Hutchinson House property was part of the 1,590 acres of the original land grant to Paul Grimball, the first property to be deeded by the Lords Proprietors in 1683 on Edisto Island. This fits with the findings of the archaeological report regarding the occupation of this part of Edisto Island.

Our documentation of the Hutchinson Family is also expanding. Greg Estevez, a Henry Hutchinson descendent, has provided several documents and photos that will be digitized, recorded and analyzed over the next few months.

Had a terrific year of fundraising for 2019 that will allow us to do the project that we have planned for 2020. The Team is being formed for the big push for the final restoration of the house and endowment to keep the house and grounds running after the restoration is complete. We are not sure what the final cost might be but we are looking at possibly $1.5 million to be raised in the next couple years, and this includes an endowment of 1 million. Ellie Tiller is our consultant and helping guide the strategy for the project. Currently we are working on mini feasibility studies and doing conversations with community members and major donors to determine how they feel about the HH project and what they would like to see happen in the future and if they are willing to participate and at what levels. We are building a story and a case around the project.

Last year the Hutchinson House site had Sea Island Cotton growing for the first time in over 90 years! EIOLT staff member Tom Austin, prepared a plot, acquired sea island cotton seed that originally came from cotton grown on Edisto Island, planted, tended, weeded and produced healthy plants that allowed the harvest of cotton fibers and seedstock. The plot will be
expanded this year and Tom hopes to improve the yield using seeds from the best plants.

The EIOLT Hutchinson House Committee is working hard to keep up with all the activity surrounding the project. Several Teams have been formed to keep track of all that is going on. We have a team for fundraising, one for tracking construction progress, one for finding, writing and tracking grants, a team for site maintenance and security, another for the sea island cotton project, and a team for finding, cataloging, and identifying artifacts, archaeological oversite all of which will be used to tell the history and story of the Hutchinson House and Family. Each team is led by a Committee member.

And that’s not all. We formed a dedicated Hurricane Team and Hurricane Plan to make every effort to keep the house safe in that event. We have been working with the College of Charleston to find a graduate student who wants to make a project of some aspect of the Hutchinson House. We are talking to the American College of Building Arts to use the House as
a learning resource. Our parking area with the information board has been visited by over 1100 cars since June 1, 2019. We enjoyed our first annual Campout with Fine Dining in October.

With the national emergency of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have found ourselves stuck at home more than we may like. You might be getting stir-crazy and looking for something to take your mind off the world at hand. Well, I have just the solution for you! Now is the perfect time to explore your backyard wilderness and find those easily accessible facets of nature that shine out from the corners. Our backyards, especially those in our rural and well-preserved Edisto, are brimming with nature. You only need to look to see them.

An easy place to start is with the plants growing about your lawn. Spring has sprung and wildflowers are cropping up everywhere. Tiny bursts of color flecked across the turf grass are easy to pick out. Clover, Oxalis, Toadflax, Bluet, Dwarf Dandelion, Vetch, and Dewberry are all common in lawns and weedy alcoves. While you’re combing through the grass for flowers, keep an eye open for pollinators. Our native bees and butterflies have begun to stir and they will be frequenting any flowers they can find nearby. Bumblebees, Carpenter Bees, and Honeybees are buzzing about and Cloudless Sulphurs, Red-banded Hairstreaks, and Juvenal’s Duskywings are fluttering around. As you gaze around into the whirling world of winged insects, stay apprised of any of our cold-blooded locals sure to be nearby. Lurking under and inside potted plants are Green Tree frogs, Southern Toads, and Green Anoles, happy cohabitators of human creation. The Anole patrols for insects by day and it is by night for our Tree Frogs and Toads.

Of course, no backyard nature outing is complete without taking note of our abundant and diverse birds. Bringing birds to your backyard is as easy as hanging up a bird feeder. A handful of millet and sunflower seeds scattered on a sidewalk or across a patio will accomplish the same goal and might bring in birds of a different feather, along with any neighborhood squirrels. Putting out a block of suet or a sprinkling of mealworms will attract ever more yard birds. A cup of grape jelly may net you an Oriole. Now is the perfect time to try your hand at birding. Birds are beginning to sing and build nests, making them easier than normal to see, hear, and attract with feeders. You can keep a list of all these birds to upload to the eBird app. Cornell University, who manages eBird, has tons of online resources for identifying and attracting birds.

If you encounter anything you can’t identify, break out any field guides you have or upload the photo to the iNaturalist app. Using iNaturalist is a great way to find a name for common species and to get answers for more difficult ones from expert naturalists. Observations submitted to eBird and iNaturalist can help biologists from around the country with their research. So what are you waiting for? Step outside and learn what you’ve been missing this whole time!

Article by: Tom Austin, Land Protection Specialist for EIOLT

As I write this brief note, I am observing the stay-at-home strategy to prevent the corona virus from spreading, and I hope every one of you reading this is healthy and managing well.  We are all aware of the negative effects this health crisis has created for individuals and businesses and our hearts go out to each of you.  Although EIOLT will be impacted by these events also, I want to assure our supporters that we are taking the necessary steps to ensure we are able to continue pursuing our organization’s mission.  

Our office is closed until further notice, and staff members are working from home.  Given the current situation, we are rescheduling our June Auction and Party fundraiser to August 15.  Our events are not only an enjoyable way to celebrate with you, but are also critically important to the economics of EIOLT.  If all goes well over the next two months, we will be able to stay on track to bring you all the wonderful programs and activities that your support helps us offer to our youth and adults each year. 

I know you are also likely feeling financial, physical or emotional impacts and we want you to know if there is anything we can do for you at this time, or if there is any need you may have with which we might be able to help you right now, you may email or call us and we will do everything we can to help.   We also sincerely hope that if you are in a position to continue your support of our work, you will help EIOLT continue preserving and protecting our island’s natural resources and heritage.  I look forward to getting together at future events once this crisis has passed.  In the meantime, I wish good health to each of you and your families.

Sidney Gauthreaux,

“I am very excited to join this wonderful organization and to help further the great work that EIOLT does to keep Edisto the amazing haven that everyone loves.”  

Kathy is originally from Columbia and is a graduate of The College of Charleston. She married her college sweetheart, A Citadel graduate, and raised two children, Eliza and Will, in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Fairfax County.  Many vacations to this gorgeous island led to buying property and building a home here. She retired after 30 years as an educator in both public and independent schools and moved to Edisto this past summer.

The Edisto Island Open Land Trust’s 7th Annual Cocktail Party and Live Auction held on Friday, June 20 was a huge success. Thanks in part to the exciting location at Grover’s Bar and Grill, EIOLT had record attendance with over 200 supporters. The live auction raised the most money in the history of the event, including a record breaking amount raised for EIOLT’s education outreach program.

Guests were wowed by Southern Affairs Catering’s delightful selection of heavy hors d’ouevres.  Benefit auctioneer Tom Crawford revved up the crowd with a lively game of Heads or Tails, which brought in over $1000. Handmade auction items, including a wooden boat constructed by John Martin of Cottageville and a hand-carved turkey feather by Roy Smoak, inspired intense bidding. Vacation packages and the chance to have an event at Sunny Side Plantation were also extremely popular.

Twenty-six teams, our largest field ever, were eager to begin the Tomato Open on Saturday morning. A record number of ladies participated, with Maria Woods hitting the ladies’ longest drive. Nick Collins hit the men’s longest drive. Dan David, Charlie Pulley, Randall Sandin, and Trina Turbeville were closest to the pin on holes 3, 6, 12 and 16, respectively. Nick Collins attempted the $5000 Putt, but just missed out on the cash. Carol Payne attempted the Million Dollar Shot. First Flight champions were Team Sinclaire, Perry, Collins and Padgette, who tied for first with Team Nunnery, David, Payne and Thomerson.  The Second Flight was won by Team Lee, Callahan, Kelly and Taylor.  Team Fishback, Turbeville, Turbeville and Wamer won the Third Flight.

BI-LO showed their community support as the title sponsor of this year’s event, and their staff brought a high level of fun and energy on and off the course. Lead sponsors were the Huffines Company, Rizer Chevrolet Buick GMC and Southern Affairs Catering.  Supporting sponsors were Atwood Vacations Real Estate, Jim Kempson of Carolina One Sea Island Group, Edisto Real Estate Company, Edisto Sales & Rentals Realty, First Citizens Wealth Management, Fort Sumter Tours, The Plantation Course, Po Pigs Bo-B-Q, the Town of Edisto Beach, Sea Spirits Liquor and Ice and Murdaugh’s Tree Service.

Be sure to check out and Like our Facebook Page for event photos!

The Edisto Island Open Land Trust is happy to announce that it is currently working towards renewing our accreditation with the Land Trust Accreditation Commission. The land trust accreditation program recognizes land conservation organizations that meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever. The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, conducts an extensive review of each applicant’s policies and programs during this process. The Edisto Island Open Land Trust strongly values the accreditation program as it demonstrates our commitment to responsibly and ethically managing our organization. It is a clear and unbiased way to display our dedication to our mission to our members, volunteers, peers, and partners.

A public comment period is now open on our accreditation renewal. The Commission invites public input and accepts signed, written comments on pending applications. Comments must relate to how the Edisto Island Open Land Trust complies with national quality standards. These standards address the ethical and technical operation of a land trust. For the full list of standards see http://www.landtrustaccreditation.org/help-and-resources/indicator-practices.

To learn more about the accreditation program and to submit a comment, visit www.landtrustaccreditation.org, or email your comment to info@landtrustaccreditation.org. Comments on the Edisto Island Open Land Trust’s application will be most useful by April 12, 2020. Comments may also be faxed or mailed to the Land Trust Accreditation Commission at:

Fax – (518) 587-3183

Address – Attn: Public Comments: 36 Phila Street, Suite 2, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

The Edisto Island Open Land Trust (EIOLT) has purchased a very important property on the island that includes 9 acres surrounding an important historic house that was at risk of being lost forever.  The property is now protected from any future threat of being developed into a high-density multi-home tract, and the Hutchinson House, which still stands on the site and is one of the oldest intact freedman’s house on Edisto, will be saved.  EIOLT’s acquisition ensures the dilapidated home does not crumble to the ground or become demolished by another landowner unaware of the historical significance of the house. 

Hutchinson House Overview

The Hutchinson House, constructed around 1885, is one of the oldest surviving houses built by African Americans during the Reconstruction Era on Edisto Island. In a time when many freed people struggled to thrive economically, the Hutchinsons prospered as farmers who operated one of the African American-owned cotton gins on the island. James Hutchinson was born into slavery and escaped bondage in 1863 during the Civil War. He became a leader of the local freedmen community during Reconstruction. In 1875, he purchased Shell House Plantation as part of a land cooperative with other shareholders. His son, Henry, also born into slavery, inherited a portion of his father’s property when his father died in 1885. That same year, Henry Hutchinson married Rosa Swinton and reportedly built the Hutchinson House on that land soon after.

The Hutchinson House is a rare intact example of vernacular domestic architecture built by African Americans during the Reconstruction Era. The scale and ornament of the house reflect the Hutchinson’s prosperity, and its wrap-around porch and decorative elements mark it as much more refined than other houses constructed by African Americans at that time. Builders used a combination of recycled and new materials to construct the house, installing decorative salvaged wooden elements on the interior. Descendants of the Hutchinson family occupied the house until the 1980s. In 2016, they sold the house to the Edisto Island Open Land Trust (EIOLT). The EIOLT is in the process of stabilizing and restoring the Hutchinson House and will ultimately open it to the public and provide a place for the community to gather together for programs and events.

The Hutchinson House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987, and remained in the family until 2016, when it was purchased by Edisto Island Open Land Trust.  Unfortunately, the house is currently in a general condition of dilapidation. 

The land trust has begun taking measures to stabilize the structure while a thorough assessment of the grounds and the home is being conducted.  EIOLT has been working and collaborating with several important resources on the island, including the Edisto Island Historic Preservation Society and many wonderful community volunteers.  The land trust has also worked with the American College of the Building Arts (ACBA)

Contributions to the Hutchinson House project can be made here


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