Real Estate News

Sale of historic Orange Grove Place to benefit two Lowcountry nonprofit groups

Two Lowcountry nonprofit organizations will benefit from the sale of a historic home in Walterboro, representatives from the Historic Beaufort Foundation and the Colleton County Arts Council announced this week.

Audrey Thomas created a trust before she died in 2006 to give money from the sale of Orange Grove Place to these organizations. The house in the Hickory Valley Historic District of Walterboro recently sold for $775,000.

The Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina will manage an endowment created from the proceeds of the sale and administer annual grants to the two organizations.

"I think she would be very happy that the organizations she believed in are being benefited," said Bonnie Hargrove, former executive director of the Colleton arts council and Thomas' friend. "I know she had great faith in the Community Foundation."

Hargrove described Thomas, who never married or had children, as "wonderful."

"She was a very strong woman and a real animal lover," she said.

Thomas established and ran for many years the respiratory therapy and anesthesia departments at Colleton Regional Hospital, and later owned several medical companies. She also supported other Walterboro-area charities.

The ca. 1823 home built for Senator E.H. Elmore is situated on 7.3 acres and was sold furnished by Huffines Co. realtors. Orange Grove Place was on the market for two years, and 100 percent of the proceeds are being donated, after fees and court costs, said Calvert Huffines, president and managing partner of The Huffines Company.

The Colleton Arts Council will receive 60 percent of the yearly grant money from the endowment, and the Beaufort Historic Foundation will receive 40 percent.

Edna Crews, regional vice president of the Coastal Community Foundation, said the two organizations must apply for the grants each year and use the money to "enhance knowledge of and appreciation for history of the U.S. and specifically South Carolina, and/or promote public awareness of the importance of historic preservation." The money can also be used to purchase, repair and maintain historic properties, and it can fund programs that promote artistic and cultural education in Colleton County, she said.

Julie Good, executive director of the Historic Beaufort Foundation, said the gift represents a "tremendous opportunity" for her organization.

Thomas worked with the Historic Beaufort Foundation to establish a conservation easement on part of her estate.

Built in the Federal style and appointed with antique furnishings, the main house at Orange Grove Place is 6,091 square feet. It has four bedrooms and four-and-a-half bathrooms -- all with 12-foot ceilings.

Included in the sale were three guest houses, including a ca. 1880 cottage that housed the law offices of Daniel Henderson, then later a schoolhouse for his daughter, Miss Sallie Henderson.

In the late 20th century, Thomas purchased the property from the Henderson family and did extensive renovations supervised by landscape architect Robert Marvin. Thomas had wanted her home to become a house museum after her death, but the renovations compromised the historical integrity, so an endowment was created.

Thomas' long-time assistant Pat Rogers and Rogers' granddaughter, Mary Caroline Wilkinson, managed the property after Thomas' death. Beverly Petty managed the trust.

The buyers are Doug and Sue Tilden of San Francisco. Sue is an urban planner and Doug is an architect who specializes in railroad and subway station design. He helped design Korea's high-speed train, and is currently working on a project to connect commuter lines entering New York City from Penn Station to Grand Central Station.