Thanks to Paul Beckler of Hilton Head Island and Atlanta for sharing his observations on one of Beaufort County's rare jewels, Auldbrass Plantation.
The plantation will be open to the public Nov. 2-3 as a fund-raiser for the Beaufort County Open Land Trust. Tickets will go on sale in August. For more information, see the trust's website: www.openlandtrust.com.
"A Visit to Auldbrass"
By Paul Beckler
There are few opportunities to wander the grounds and explore Auldbrass Plantation near Yemassee.
My wife and I were fortunate enough to have this experience in May 2012. Auldbrass is the only plantation in a collection of more than 1,000 structures designed by the legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and is rarely open to the public.
The evening fundraiser we attended featured a walking tour through what I consider a living museum, which has been lovingly recreated, cared for, and maintained by Hollywood film producer Joel Silver. He bought the sprawling estate north of Beaufort in 1986.
Auldbrass is a tribute to organic construction that harnesses nature's form and function.
We were awed by cypress trees towering from Crystal Lake behind the main living quarters. They appeared to connect themselves spiritually with the cypress boards laid out diagonally at extreme angles that, with brass screws, hold together the more than 20 buildings that form this amazing complex.
We were tantalized by the terraced metal rooftops that funnel water to specific locations where downspouts simulating Spanish moss merge with the landscape.
We were intrigued by the outdoor gardens, complete with a gazebo aviary as well as pieces of art that would rival those in any museum. A gold-hued cupid with bow and arrow in hand, perhaps from the top of a skyscraper, is perched on a pedestal. Old World cast iron bells of various shapes and sizes hang like fruit from a 200-year-old oak tree. Be careful if you sit on the wooden swing below the lowest branch. Just above your head, a serpentine dragon with a glass orb in its claw is watching you.
Wait -- are there zebras on the other side of that fence? How about the lynx or the pygmy hippo over there? Horses, ibex, you name it. Wildlife surrounds you.
Think of a project inspired by quintessential Yankee ingenuity brought to the oldest part of the country that weathered both the Revolutionary and Civil wars. Then add the eclectic eye of a visionary such as Mr. Silver, who has preserved this valuable heritage with influence from all directions -- north, south, east, and west.
As the sun set at the end of the day, landscape lights outlined Frank Lloyd Wright's creations, which appear to settle back into the natural surroundings of the land that inspired them. We will rest easy knowing that they will be preserved for generations to come.
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