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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.
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.
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