Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Bonnie Doone

As I have mentioned many times I was raised reared as a Presbyterian. Daddy's family was from Scotland County, North Carolina and our roots were not far from the hills of country of Scotland. I was often reminded of this as a child with stories of distant kin coming over from the "old country", the history of the land in North Carolina, and the G*%  D*$#  Presbyterian Catechism. But, I digress.

Before Mama and Daddy got so involved with property in the North Carolina mountains we were members in good standing of the First Presbyterian church in my hometown. And, most Sundays you would find us in Sunday School and Preaching. In 1965, the Charleston Presbytery bought this magnificent plantation down in the low country of South Carolina on the Ashepoo river named Bonnie Doone. The property dated back to a land grant from  King William in 1722. Initially it was a rice plantation, and like many of the palatial homes in that part of the state, was burned during the war. 

Also, like so many of these great properties, it lay quietly until in 1932, when a Yankee from New York with money purchased it and built a lovely Georgian style home befitting the property and commissioned a well known landscape architect to plan a camellia garden next to the house. If one didn't know any better, the new house sitting at the end of the long drive of old oaks looked like it had been there all along. 

Our church immediately planned an outing for all the members to see the new property and we went. It was breath taking. Even at 6, I was jaded by the old homes, the avenues of oaks, the Spanish moss, and the bluffs over looking the slow moving river. But that day, I remember getting out of the car. 

Over the next years, I spent many weekends down there on retreats and camps. It was like heaven to me. Some times we would be staying in the main house which still had all the trappings of a fine home with the architectural details, the rich paneling, the huge rooms, and the beautiful floors. Other times we would be in the various cabins, houses, and even the stable that had all been redone to house groups of folks. 

The grounds with the ancient oaks, the lawn over looking the Ashepoo river, the old brick walls covered with ivy and moss were almost magical. Still to this day I have such fond memories of the place.       

I often thought about Bonnie Doone and what ever happened to the place. I asked Mama once, since she was still active in the Presbyterian Church, and she said that she didn't think the church had anything to do with it any more. Certainly, it hadn't burned, or worse yet, been sold for some development - 'Bonnie Doone Estates'. Just the thought makes my skin crawl.

On the way to Edisto for the wedding, I noticed a sign just outside Jacksonboro to Bonnie Dune. Well, I thought, something must still be there. Just yesterday, I finally got around to looking into what was there now. She still stands. And, from the pictures, my memory did not embellish her beauty and grace. She is just as I remember. But, as I read on, horrors! The Charleston Presbytery sold her in 1978 to, of all folks, the Charleston Baptist Association.   

So the good news is she has been preserved as is. The bad news is there will be no more dancing, imbibing, or carrying on in the halls of Bonnie Doone. I can assure you the church women of  the Baptist church (at least the older ones) will make sure that none such happens on the grounds of any place owned by the Baptist Church. If they had seen us down there, they would have deemed us heathens and prayed for our souls, knowing for sure we were destined for Hell. Thank God, those walls cannot talk.                                                             


Laraine Caldwell said...

Brings back memories. Mama's family had a Christmas reunion at Bonnie Doone (1969, I believe).

Ann Currie said...

Laraine: Then you know how beautiful the place is. Y'all weren't Presbyterian were you?

Laraine Caldwell said...

Yes, it was beautiful. And I remember one uncle frying bacon in one of the largest cast iron frying pans I have ever seen. Presbyterian??? Heavens, no! My mama, in case you forgot, is Jackie Odom Vickers--Norway Baptist Church.

Ann Currie said...

Oh, I know you're baptist through and through - I was just joking. Every once in a while I need to make sure everyone is paying attention1