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Brookgreen Gardens — Murrells Inlet, South Carolina

SC Picture Project  |  Georgetown County  |  Brookgreen Gardens

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Brookgreen Gardens

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. Anna Hyatt Huntington’s sculpture Fighting Stallions, seen below, greets visitors from the gardens’ entrance.

Brookgreen Fighting Stallions

Al Rubowitz of Brooklyn, NY, 2013 © 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 Allee of Oaks

Dave Callahan of Myrtle Beach, 2019 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

In 1930, New York 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. This purchase included the beachfront property that would later become Huntington Beach State Park.

Brookgreen Dionysus

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

The beauty and history of the land prompted the Huntingtons to establish the first public sculpture garden in the United States. The Huntingtons wished to exhibit works of great American sculptors depicting a wide array of cultures and experiences.

Brookgreen Gardens Horse Statue

Kathleen Chapman of Pawleys Island, 2017 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

A well-regarded sculptor herself, Huntington belonged to the National Sculpture Society, the National Association of Women Artists, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the National Academy of Design.

Sea Urchin Sculpture

Robert Ross of Raleigh, NC, 2011 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Today, the Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington Sculpture Garden boasts a collection of more than 1,400 works from over 350 artists. Many of the works were created by co-founder Anna Hyatt Huntington. She is best known for her depictions of animals. The sculpture garden was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1992.

Female Slave Sculpture

Robert Ross of Raleigh, NC, 2011 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Brookgreen’s 1931 charter established it as “A Society for Southeastern Flora and Fauna,” and adjacent to the sculpture garden is a zoo inhabited by animals indigenous to this area of South Carolina. Visitors can observe native wildlife such as river otters and fox squirrels.

Brookgreen Fox

Shannon O’Shea of Harrisburg, 2013 PA © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

In addition, one can also see domestic animals common to colonial South Carolina, including 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. It is the only zoo on the coast of the Carolinas accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Nesting Osprey | Brookgreen

Steve Stewart of Pawleys Island, 2016 © 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 Pond

Matt Trudeau of Murrells Inlet, 2013 © 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, Night of a Thousand Candles

Austin Bond of Murrells Inlet, 2018 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

This statute entitled Diana of the Chase was created by Anna Hyatt Huntington. The goddess from Greek mythology stands on a globe, gazing upwards with a bow in her hand. She is illuminated by the thousands of lights streaming from the Night of a Thousand Candles event.

Diana - Brookgreen Gardens

Guenter Weber of Summerville, 2017 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

This live oak (quercus virginiana) is meticulously decorated for the popular event as well.

Live Oak- Brookgreen

Guenter Weber of Summerville, 2017 © 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.

Fountain of the Muses

Robert Ross of Raleigh, NC, 2011 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The statue seen below of a mother and child is known as Joy of Motherhood and was sculpted out of bronze by artist Willard Newman Hirsch. One of the themes seen most often in Hirsch’ work is the spiritual connection seen between mother and child. Hirsch was a gifted artist, and teacher, from Charleston.

Brookgreen Gardens Mother and Child Statue

Lynn Wheeler of Myrtle Beach, 2019 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

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.

More Pictures of Brookgreen Gardens

Brookgreen Gardens Panoramic

Jack Falat of Pawleys Island, 2019 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Brookgreen Central Path

Matt Trudeau of Murrells Inlet, 2013 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Brookgreen Heron

Shannon Grant Stevens of White Lake, NC, 2014 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Reflections on Brookgreen Gardens

Yvonne Price says of her photo below: “This was the beginning of a beautiful day spent in the gardens enjoying nature, beautiful landscaping, art and history. It was a day well spent.”

Brookgreen Gardens Stallions

Yvonne Price of Ladson, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Contributor Gregg Turbeville shares about his photo below: “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, taken 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.”

Brookgreen Gardens Boat

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

Brookgreen Gardens Info

Address: 1931 Brookgreen Drive, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576
GPS Coordinates: 33.516925,-79.090751
Website: http://www.brookgreen.org/

Brookgreen Gardens Map

Please Share Your Thoughts!

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9 Comments about Brookgreen Gardens

Mike Cross says:
November 18th, 2016 at 4:07 pm

Absolutely stunning place to visit. My wife and I visited first about 2 years after we first married and this month again for at least the 30th time just after we celebrated our 53 wedding anniversary. Many additions and improvements to the grounds over the years. We enjoyed it as much after all these visits as we did the first time. Spend the day –not a two hour run through. We always come after breakfast and eat lunch and leave as they are closing.

Carol Miller says:
June 10th, 2016 at 11:36 pm

I enjoyed my visit to Brookgreen Gardens today but was disappointed in the condition of many of the garden beds. Daylilies need to be deadheaded EVERY day; the blooms only last for a day. What I saw today were many dead flowers on plants, which took away from the beauty of the blooming ones. Additionally, there were lots of weeds throughout the garden beds. I realize that the gardens cover many acres; however, pristine flowerbed maintenance at a “garden sanctuary” is a must. I would suggest that volunteers from the Georgetown County Master Gardeners organization be recruited to help with maintenance. They would get “volunteer hours” necessary to maintain their MG certification, and it would help the regular workers to keep the place in tip-top shape. Possibly, you already do this, but a call-out for extra help would certainly be in order. As a Charleston County Master Gardener, I would advise better maintenance for a more pleasing representation of your lovely gardens. The restaurant is fabulous — enjoyed lunch there!

Mae Riddle says:
June 5th, 2016 at 6:48 pm

Would love to see photos of the Lego sculptures. I was there but did not have a camera. One of the most impressive things ever!


Jane Kiczenski says:
August 23rd, 2015 at 2:39 pm

Went here years ago! They have added a few things over the years. I would love to go back with my digital camera! My old pictures are faded now.

Karen says:
June 15th, 2015 at 6:10 pm

I visited when I was a little girl and then again as a young mother. I love the place and hope to return someday. But I had a picture of my two children sitting on a wall that had the most wonderful poem about entering a garden. I cannot locate the photo…is there anyone who could quote me the poem. It meant a lot to me as well as the picture. I wish I could find it…it was 34 years ago. I will keep researching.

Susan Eck says:
May 15th, 2015 at 7:35 pm

Want. to. visit. this.

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 Macdonald 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 Wheaton 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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