The Drayton family ownership of Magnolia actually began with a wedding. In 1676, an English colonist named Stephen Fox emigrated to Charleston; when his daughter Ann married Thomas Drayton several years later, Fox gave the young couple 402 acres as a wedding present. That land became known as Magnolia-on-the-Ashley.
Magnolia’s gardens have attracted tourists and locals since the 1880s. The gardens were designed in the 1840s by Reverend John Grimké Drayton, Magnolia’s owner at the time; a century later, his great-granddaughter Sara Hastie married Samuel Logan of Philadelphia on the Long White Bridge lawn. Since then, hundreds of couples have started their lives together at Magnolia. We’re thrilled you’ve decided to join your history to ours!
Before Magnolia was a public garden, it was a rice plantation worked by enslaved laborers. These men, women, and children did the work that made the money that made the Drayton family rich. Without the generations of enslaved people who cleared, built, planted, weeded, and harvested, there would be no plantation house, no rice fields and dikes, no historic gardens, no picturesque bridges, no beautifully blooming azaleas and camellias. And without the forced labor of enslaved men, women, and children, the Drayton family could not have risen to prominence.
Simply put, Magnolia owes its very existence to enslaved workers.
In most cases, we know almost nothing about their lives; in many cases, we don’t even know their names. We continue to work with geneaologists, archaeologists, and historians to find out as much as we can about the families enslaved here and their descendents. We are committed to sharing their stories.
Every visitor to Magnolia should remember, appreciate and honor the men, women, and children who lived and died in servitude here. This place is their legacy.