It's nice when the cast of Southern Charm takes their histrionics on a little tour. In Season 8, Episode 9, the gang hops on a party bus and heads to Auldbrass Plantation in Beaufort, S.C., because sometimes you just have to drink and argue in an architecturally stunning environment. There is a lot to unpack in the episode but we're more interested in what we can unpack about the house itself. Can anyone stay at Auldbrass Plantation, and, more importantly, should they?
Can you stay at Auldbrass Plantation?
We regret to inform you that no one can stay at Auldbrass Plantation without special permission. We assume Bravo pulled a few strings for Southern Charm, otherwise access to the property is extremely limited. We called up the fine folks from Open Land Trust who are "South Carolina's first and oldest land trust working to conserve open spaces, natural habitats, and rural communities throughout the Southern Lowcountry," because they are loosely associated with the property, to get some answers.
Every other year Open Land Trust is allowed one weekend to give tours of Auldbrass Plantation as part of a fundraising effort for their organization. Outside of this one weekend, Auldbrass Plantation is owned by famed Hollywood producer Joel Silver who is behind incredible hits like Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, and The Matrix.
According to the town of Beaufort's website, Joel purchased the property in 1987 because he is a "Frank Lloyd Wright aficionado." Did we forget to mention that the house on the property was originally designed by celebrated American architect Frank Lloyd Wright? "Working from Wright’s original plans and enlisting the help of Wright’s grandson, Eric Lloyd Wright, Silver completed the architectural vision for Auldbrass Plantation, thus fulfilling Wright’s and Stevens’ dream and making Auld brass a true architectural treasure," per Beautfort.com.
It's true, Auldbrass Plantation was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright!
First, let's get the plantation of it all out of the way. Auldbrass Plantation was never actually used as a plantation, but the property it stands on was. Using a timeline on SouthCarolinaPlantations.com, we can tract the history of Auldbrass Plantation. The land was gifted to a man named Charles Barker in 1736 as part of a royal grant from King George II.
The property changed hands a couple of times, finally ending up with John Deas who "made his home on the property and he probably built a house, however, no records have been found to verify this." Based on an inventory of his estate, we know that rice and indigo was grown there and was most likely tended to by enslaved people. When Frank Lloyd Wright was commissioned to build the house in 1940 by a man named C. Leigh Stevens, it was renamed Auldbrass Plantation.
On the one hand, keeping the word "plantation" in the name is a reminder of the property's dark history. It should not be forgotten. On the other, it can be viewed as a nod to the South's own history which can be interpreted as a point of pride. Again, the Frank Lloyd Wright–designed house was never actually a working plantation, so the use of the word seems pointed and strange, though we were told by someone at Open Land Trust that the tour guides have dropped "plantation" entirely from their tours.
Regardless, the house itself is stunning in that classic Wright way. There is a lot of intention to its design, particularly in the angles. The building was constructed from native cypress trees which he calculated grow at an 80 degree angle. Thus, the boards in the house also lay at an 80 degree angle.
The next time the house will be open for tours is 2023, so mark your calendars for the one weekend.