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January 10, 2018

Help Save the Hutchinson House

The Edisto Island Open Land Trust (EIOLT) has purchased a very important property on the island that includes 9 acres surrounding an important historic house that was at risk of being lost forever.  The property is now protected from any future threat of being developed into a high-density multi-home tract, and the Hutchinson House, which still stands on the site and is one of the oldest intact freedman’s house on Edisto, will be saved.  EIOLT’s acquisition ensures the dilapidated home does not crumble to the ground or become demolished by another landowner unaware of the historical significance of the house. 

The Hutchinson House represents one of the oldest houses on Edisto identified with the post Civil War African-American community.  Family tradition has always said that Henry Hutchinson had the home built circa 1885 as a wedding gift for his bride, Rosa Swinton Hutchinson, and lived there until his death in 1941. The home offers a wonderful existing example of a freedman’s house on the island.  The house sits on brick piers and stands one and a half stories high.  There are gabled dormers on the front side of the roof, with six-over-six lights in each dormer window.  The Hutchinson House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987, and remained in the family until 2016, when it was purchased by Edisto Island Open Land Trust.  Unfortunately, the house is currently in a general condition of dilapidation. 

The land trust has begun taking measures to stabilize the structure while a thorough assessment of the grounds and the home is being conducted.  EIOLT has been working and collaborating with several important resources on the island, including the Edisto Island Historic Preservation Society and many wonderful community volunteers.  The land trust also reached out to alert the American College of the Building Arts (ACBA) about the historic structure.  After an initial site visit by Christina Butler, Professor of Preservation and Architectural History at the College, the land trust entered into an agreement with the College that involves the school taking on the project as a case study for the ACBA Preservation class. In January, 2018, this class began evaluating and researching the Hutchinson House, and the Trade faculty will determine if ACBA will be participating in the physical restoration of the house.

More immediately, the land trust has installed a temporary shelter over the entire house to protect it from the elements.   Additionally, fundraising efforts in 2017 helped the land trust pay back the $100,000 loan granted from the Lowcountry Conservation Loan Fund, to purchase the property.  Now the process begins of assessing the true condition of the structure and determining the stabilization and restoration plan for the structure. Contributions to the Hutchinson House project can be made here.

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