Thursday Doors

This handsome Thursday gate is from Brookgreen Gardens. The two Great Danes above were designed by Anna Hyatt Huntington in 1929 and carved from granite by Robert Bailie.

Great Danes

It is a beautiful, massive piece, and as you can see from the bottom shot of the decorations, in the center is B G for Brookgreen Gardens. There are three animals on each side, except one is missing. I tried to find a photo online where I could determine what it was, but I wasn’t successful.

There is a nice walking path and view from either side of the gate – massive live oaks or Youth Taming the Wild sculpture carved from limestone in 1927.

Last Saturday, I went there with friends to a lecture entitled “From slave to soldier to freedom.” We spent a wonderful hour with Gilbert Walker Jr. who is an Artist Blacksmith from Savannah, Georgia. He shared many interesting facts about Gullah Geechee Heritage and the creation of these beautiful black iron pieces of art.

The week before, we visited the story quilt and fabric collages in the Lowcountry display, “Shine On, Gullah, Shine On.”

The Gullah Geechee people were originally brought to this area as slaves from Western Africa because of their experience in growing rice. Brookgreen Gardens was originally four rice plantations that were combined by the Huntington family so their link to this property is deeply rooted.

February is African American History month so it was perfect timing to visit and learn more about the Gullah Geechee contribution to the area history.

Brookgreen Gardens admission tickets are valid for seven consecutive days which allows you to come and go to see or hear what peaks your interest. It is a beautiful and serene environment and will definitely require more than one visit to see it all. Wear good walking shoes and charge your phone or camera batteries. 🙂

Linked to Norm Frampton’s Thursday Doors, February 23, 2017.


  • “Gilbert Walker Jr. spent 20 years as a Savannah police officer before moving to the Chatham County District Attorney’s officer as an investigator in 2009. But just as important is his role as a blacksmith, a skill he has pursued since 2004. Walker, the descendant of Gullah people along the coast, considers blacksmithing a dying art among blacks and one he wants to preserve. “
  • “Growing up in Savannah, as a descendant of the Gullah people along the coast, I tell their story through art as I force my will onto the elements. My business is based on the life and history of the Gullah people of the southeast. My great-grandfather served in the Civil War, and I thought it was a great idea to connect with my history and I began doing reenactments … and I got into that sort of storytelling and reenacting.
  • “Through research, he found a lot of slaves were “imported” for blacksmithing. In Africa, blacksmiths are revered. … They made weapons and tools … and took ore and other elements to manipulate the earth itself and form it into what they wanted — it was magical.”

About Judy@NewEnglandGardenAndThread

Master Gardener who enjoys gardening, quilting, photography, and traveling.
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35 Responses to Thursday Doors

  1. Dan Antion says:

    Beautiful photos and a very important bit of history here, today. Thanks Judy! Blacksmiths were so important in history. The people who could make tools, enabled so many other industries to begin and grow. It’s a dying art almost everywhere, and it’s a shame. Thanks for bringing this to us. And, what a good idea to have the ticket be good for several days. Lots of attractions could learn a lesson from that tidbit!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I ride my bike through Brookgreen on some mornings when we are there in summer. Always beautiful, whatever the season, and a fabulous light display in December.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Murphy's Law says:

    The gate and those Great Danes are magnificent. It’s hard to imagine having the skill to turn metal or part of a tree into such incredible and functional art. How lucky we are they have stood the test of time. And even luckier that you are there sharing all this with us. I’m really enjoying your vacation! 😀

    Loved the history lesson too!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a beautiful gate! I enjoyed reading the history, too. There may be more blacksmiths in the western US than elsewhere and there’s one near Sheridan, WY where we go each summer. But the shop seems to always be closed when we go by, although I’d love to stop in and see what’s on offer.


    Liked by 2 people

  5. Laurie Graves says:

    Such an interesting post! History, much of it sad, and beauty mixed together. But that’s life, isn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Joyce says:

    I agree with Laurie – yes, it is all beautiful, but kind of spoiled for me when I learned at what cost to the people cruelly uprooted because someone more powerful “needed” their skill.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Vicky says:

    Oh, this is why blogging is such fun! You learn so much, random facts about faraway places that you would never, ever know if you didn’t join into these great challenges. Thank you, Judy, a lovely post and splendid gates!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I absolutely love those gates and the Great Danes on top. I am fascinated by stunning entrances that draw us inside. I find here, in France, I am always looking at grand pillars wondering about the house beyond, often they are just alongside the road and the remains of a great estate.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. joey says:

    Excellent post! I love the gates!
    I still revere metal workers 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Annie says:

    Such rich and important history that must be told over and over again. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Gorgeous gates leading to a serene garden. I’m always so grateful to the scholars (both professional and not) who work hard to keep history alive and share their knowledge with the rest of us.


  12. So very beautiful! And interesting. This especially: “In Africa, blacksmiths are revered. … They made weapons and tools … and took ore and other elements to manipulate the earth itself and form it into what they wanted — it was magical.” I had no idea.

    Lovely stuff, Judy. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. What a wonderful place that is, Judy. I love those gates. Now you have me thinking what the missing piece might be . . . a turkey, a rabbit, a fox …..

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Judy, I went to Brookgreen Gardens once and thought it a stunning place. I still have the postcards I bought somewhere.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. dennyho says:

    Thank you for the history lesson and the lovely garden gate photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. jesh stg says:

    Beautiful gates, Judy! Love all the history behind them and you looked up. It never ceases to amaze me how much the USA is such a melting pot from different cultures. Where I come from, it’s only one kind of people: the Dutch. True some others have joined, but always integrated with the Dutch culture and language – so I can’t say: meltingpot:)

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Magnificent gates, Judy. Thanks for sharing the history too. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Norm 2.0 says:

    Wonderful post Judy. I love the metalwork on this gate and those great danes are a nice touch. Any craft that creates functional beauty from basic raw materials should be appreciated if not treasured.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. germac4 says:

    Very interesting post Judy .. Especially since my grandfather was a blacksmith in Scotland & I knew very little about him… But his trade saved the family from dreadful poverty at that time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • How great is that. 🙂 This gentleman was very interesting in talking about the journey of the blacksmith from making simple tools and weapons like knives to the shoeing of horses right on to these beautiful works of art. It is an amazing trade that utilizes the intellect and strength of the person to bend the will of the iron. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Oddment says:

    I am in awe of his way of putting it: telling their story by forcing his will on the elements! What a statement that is. And what beauty in his work. I think it takes someone like a quilter, someone who works with his/her hands, to see the details that you’ve captured. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Ingrid says:

    Wow – beautiful gates, such talent and very nice capture.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Judy, just beautiful…I was thinking the other day about slavery, how so-called christians in our country could have done this…:(

    Liked by 1 person

    • During his talk he mentioned a couple of very talented blacksmiths including Isaac Jefferson, who later changed his name to Isaac Granger. Isaac was the blacksmith at Monticello and was given by Thomas Jefferson to his daughter on the day of her wedding. It was very strange to sit there and think about a talented human being being ‘gifted’ to anyone by someone we respect for his great contribution to US history.


  23. We didn’t see Brookgreen garden when we were in SC but it looks like it is definitely worth a visit. We did visit one of the plantations where we heard of history lecture. We also found an excellent local history museum on Edisto Island where we stayed.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Brenda says:

    The blacksmith lecture sounds fascinating. As with textiles, I love that ironwork can take a practical necessity into a source of amazing creative expression. There is a theory that African slavery developed in the Carolina low-country plantations because blacks from certain areas of Africa had developed high malaria resistance. The first Carolina rice plantations used Native Americans and indentured white servants, who were decimated by malaria. Africans from certain areas seemed to have a degree of immunity, which made them prized as low-country plantation workers. How amazing and disturbing that the strength and human adaptability of malaria resistance could lead to generations of slavery.
    Did you go to Atalaya, what is left of the Huntington’s home? If so, I would love to hear what you thought of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I need to first say that I just found 168 emails in a trash folder, and this was one of them. I’m sorry, took the filter off, and hope it won’t happen again. I found the story of the slaves picked out specifically based upon talents or medical issues and then transported to the rice plantations truly amazing. It is a humbling experience to imagine these people being taken from their loved ones and still performing at the top of their game. Now, I will answer your last question and provide you with a good laugh. We went to Huntington Park one day, checked out the beach, went to the gift store, walked around, viewed the campground, and took photos from the walkway, and never saw the home. When my friend asked me the same question, and I gave her my answer, she laughed hysterically trying to figure out how we could have missed it. I’m sorry I missed it so I’m thinking I need to go back. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  25. reocochran says:

    Gates are open ended doors to many fascinating places, Judy. The historical information meant a lot to February and any month’s increased knowledge.
    Craftsman of various kinds is one of my favorite forms of art, Judy. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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