BY: ELIZABETH BUSH
(Editor’s Note: This story is part 1 in a series of articles The Daniel Island News is preparing on the new Cainhoy Plantation community, a 9,000 acre tract that is now in its beginning stages of development. In future issues, we will explore the environmental factors influencing planning for the site, including new details on a proposed 500-acre conservation sanctuary to be located in the heart of the new community, as well as other topics related to the project.)
The late Harry Frank Guggenheim reportedly once noted that of all the places he was able to go in his lifetime, Cainhoy Plantation was his favorite.
Today, the vast swath of land that he loved, all 9,000 acres of it, remains largely the same as when he first purchased it for recreational use, farming and timber production in the 1930s – a verdant eco-rich wonder sprinkled with forests of loblolly and longleaf pines, pristine wetlands, towering ancient live oaks, Colonial-era trails, and breathtaking views of tidal creeks and rivers.
In the decades that followed, Guggenheim often spent time here with his family, friends and business associates – including famous aviator Charles Lindbergh and World War II general James Doolittle – hunting, celebrating the holidays at the plantation’s lodge, and enjoying the outdoors.
His younger cousin, Peter Lawson-Johnston Sr., inherited the property in the form of a lifetime family trust after Guggenheim’s passing in 1971. The mammoth parcel, which spans from the Wando River to the Cooper River on the Cainhoy Peninsula and borders the Francis Marion National Forest on its northeastern side, remains in the Lawson-Johnston family today.
Like Guggenheim, Peter, his wife, Dede, and their children and grandchildren have also cherished this tucked away place on the edge of Charleston’s urban growth boundary. More than 80 years after Guggenheim first called this land his own, the hustle and bustle of life still seems a world away from the recesses of the quiet plantation, as cars and trucks move to and from along its central core on the burgeoning Clements Ferry Road.