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Preservation Society Membership Meeting featuring guest speaker Stephen G. Hoffius, coeditor of Northern Money, Southern Land: The Lowcountry Plantation Sketches of Clotilde R. Martin

Thursday, November 12, 2009 Time: 7:00pm

Please join us on Thursday November 12th at the Charleston Museum, 360 Meeting Street, as Stephen Hoffius shares interesting finds from his collaborative research for his new book with Robert Cuthbert, Northern Money, Southern Land: The Lowcountry Plantation Sketches of Clotilde R. Martin.  All are welcome to attend.

Stephen Hoffius will be signing books and refreshments will be served following the lecture.  To order a book in advance, please contact Book & Gift Shop Manager, Cynthia Setnicka at (843) 722-4630 or order a book online by clicking on the following link, http://www.preservationsociety.org/shop_detail.asp?storeID=530.

About the speaker:

Stephen G. Hoffius is a freelance writer and editor in Charleston and the former director of publications for the South Carolina Historical Society.  He also coedited Landscape of Slavery: The Plantation in American Art with Angela D. Mack.

About Northern Money, Southern Land: The Lowcountry Plantation Sketches of Clotilde R. Martin:

In the early 1930s Chlotilde R. Martin of Beaufort, South Carolina, wrote a series of articles for the Charleston News and Courier documenting the social and economic transformation of the lowcountry coast as an influx of wealthy northerners began buying scores of old local plantations. Her articles combined the name-dropping chatter of the lowcountry social register with reflections on the tension between past and present in the old rice and cotton kingdoms of South Carolina. Edited by Robert B. Cuthbert and Stephen G. Hoffius, Northern Money, Southern Land collects Martin's articles and augments them with photographs and historical annotations to carry their stories forward to the present day.

As Martin recounted, the new owners of these coastal properties ranked among the most successful businessmen in the country and included members of the Doubleday, Du Pont, Hutton, Kress, Whitney, Guggenheim, and Vanderbilt families. Among the later owners are media magnate Ted Turner and boxer Joe Frazier. The plantation houses they bought and the homes they built are some of the most important architectural structures in the Palmetto State—although many are rarely seen by the public. In some fifty articles drawn from interviews with property owners and visits to their newly acquired lands, Martin described almost eighty estates covering some three hundred thousand acres of Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton, Colleton, and Berkeley counties.

Much of the property was purchased for hunting and was left undeveloped and protected; some of it remains so to this day. However, in many cases the development of that land over the last seventy-five years has been dramatic. When Martin first wrote about Hilton Head Island, she estimated that only about fifty white people resided there and on nearby Jenkins Island. She described beaches so wide and empty that private planes landed between the waves and the dunes. Other areas that were then isolated woodlands are today well-known residential communities, including Bray's and Dataw, and Lady's islands.

Martin's lively sketches included stories of wealthy young playboys who brought Broadway showgirls down for decadent parties, tales of the first nudist colony in America, and exchanges with African American farmhands who wanted to travel to New York to see their employers' primary homes, which they had been assured were piled high with gold and silver. In the process, Martin painted a fascinating landscape of a southern coastline changing hands and on the verge of dramatic redevelopment. Her tales, here updated by Cuthbert and Hoffius, will bring modern readers onto many little-known plantations in the southern part of South Carolina and provide a wealth of knowledge about the history of vexing tensions between development and conservation that remain a defining aspect of lowcountry life.

For more information about the November Membership Meeting, please contact Acting Director, Robert Gurley at (843) 722-4630 or rgurley@preservationsociety.org.


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