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Charleston -- Isaac Motte Dart House

Object Details

Most gardens in Charleston, South Carolina's historic district are small pocket gardens: this property has a half-acre divided into seven distinct garden rooms in addition to the 1806 Federal style house and the 1823 Gothic Revival style brick carriage house. When the current owners found this property in 1993 both buildings were derelict and nothing remained of the historic garden which was an asphalt parking lot. After the buildings were restored the owners removed the asphalt and underlying cobblestones, brought in topsoil and compost, and installed boxwood and other hedges and picket fencing painted dark green to divide the property into garden rooms. Although influenced by French and Baroque styles the formal structure predominantly resembles Italianate style gardens, with a color palette of green and white with accents in pink and purple from azaleas, camellias, crape myrtles and roses. Walkways are comprised of dark gray crushed slag, old bricks found on the property and elsewhere are stood on end and used as edging, and a brick Gothic style folly used as a garden shed was built.
The long driveway is the main axis, comprised of two cobblestone runways set in St. Augustine grass with globe-shaped boxwood hedges on either side. A formal parterre garden is along one side (opposite the main house) with two beds in the shape of Celtic crosses, a repeating shape in other garden rooms. There are Luytens benches at either end, and a hedge of alternating holly and cypress along the property line. The next room is known as the sitting garden where there is another Luytens bench under an arbor of confederate jasmine, a wall sculpture of Bacchus and a table and chairs for dining. In the back corner of the property there is a shade garden with tropical plants in a looser, less rectilinear style than the other rooms with irregular bluestone paving. The car park garden at the end of the driveway has the Gothic folly, brick edging and wrought iron gates with the same quatrefoil design as the carriage house.
The carriage house faces the formal garden which has four quadrants edged in boxwood, each with a standard bay tree, with a circular bed of crossed boxwood hedges in the center. The rose garden, outlined with boxwood, is in the shape of a teardrop or paisley motif and has a 19th century Celtic cross used as a trellis for noisette roses. The herb garden with remnants of the brick wall of the historic kitchen outbuilding is tucked between the carriage house and the main house.
Persons associated with the garden include: John Harleston (former owner, before 1795); John Rutledge (former owner, circa 1795); Isaac Motte Dart (former owner, 1801-1815); Edward Washington North (former owner, 1824-1845); members of the Simons family (former owners, 1845-1859); American Missionary Association (former owner, 1930-1950); Palmer College (former owner, 1954-1973); Historic Charleston Foundation (former owner, until 1993); Richard Marks (conservator of the house, 1993-1996); Eugene Gaillard Johnson (landscape designer, 1993- ).
Landscape designer
Johnson, Eugene Gaillard
Conservator of the house
Marks, Richard
Collection Creator
Garden Club of America
Isaac Motte Dart House (Charleston, South Carolina)
United States of America -- South Carolina -- Charleston -- Charleston
Gardens -- South Carolina -- Charleston
Landscape designer
Johnson, Eugene Gaillard
Conservator of the house
Marks, Richard
See more items in
The Garden Club of America collection
The Garden Club of America collection / Series 1: United States Garden Images / South Carolina
A project to describe images in this finding aid received Federal support from the Smithsonian Collections Care Initiative, administered by the National Collections Program.
Custodial History
The Palmetto Garden Club of South Carolina facilitated the submission of this garden's documentation.
Archival Repository
Archives of American Gardens
AAG.GCA, File SC111
Archival materials
Collection Citation
Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, The Garden Club of America collection.
Collection Rights
Archives of American Gardens encourages the use of its archival materials for non-commercial, educational and personal use under the fair use provision of U.S. copyright law. Use or copyright restrictions may exist. It is incumbent upon the researcher to ascertain copyright status and assume responsibility for usage. All requests for duplication and use must be submitted in writing and approved by Archives of American Gardens. Please direct reference inquiries to the Archives of American Gardens:
Garden has been featured in "Reclaiming a Charleston Landmark "by Jeanmarie Andrews published in Early American Life, June 2009, pp. 20-31. Garden has been featured in "Formality on a Small Scale" by Lynn McBride published in Beautiful Homes (Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications), Spring 2004, pp. 26-27. "The Garden of the Isaac Motte Dart House" in The Charleston Gardener by Louisa Pringle Cameron, Wyrick & Co, April 1, 2001, pp. 12-17. "Formal Introduction" by Sally Finder-Koziol published in Garden Shed (Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications), Summer 2005, pp. 70-73. "Rooted in History" in Dream Gardens Across America 2007, pp. 40-47. "Friendly Formality" by Elvin McDonald published in Traditional Home, July 2002, pp. 134-141.
Scope and Contents
The folder includes worksheets and photocopies of articles.
Collection Restrictions
Access to original archival materials by appointment only. Researcher must submit request for appointment in writing. Certain items may be restricted and not available to researchers. Please direct reference inquiries to the Archives of American Gardens:
Related Materials
Isaac Motte Dart House related holdings consist of 1 folder (28 digital images)
Large EAD
Record ID
Charleston -- Isaac Motte Dart House
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