SOUTH CAROLINA’S MOST COVETED WATERFOWL PROPERTY
Annandale is a 3,486± acre historic rice plantation in Georgetown, South Carolina’s Santee Delta. With frontage on the Intracoastal Waterway, Minim Creek, Duck Creek, and North Santee Bay, the water resources create a tremendous ecological playground. In just the immediate area, the federal, state, and protected private lands make up over a half-million acres, creating the longest undeveloped stretch of coastline on the Atlantic.
Annandale is one of South Carolina’s most coveted waterfowl properties, with annual harvests consistently providing 5+ ducks per hunter per outing. For passionate waterfowlers, the drive comes from the inexplicable thrill of a decoying duck, and at Annandale, it’s these types of species that make up most of the bag – gadwalls, widgeon, pintails, teal, and mottled ducks. The sporting life is multi-seasonal here with a location that’s a launching point to endless river, bay, and ocean adventures.
Annandale is set up well for comfortable gatherings and entertaining family and friends. The historic Millbrook House, in a quintessentially southern setting surrounded by gorgeous live oaks, is the property’s restored 1833 Greek Revival home. The main house at Annandale was built in the 1970s and is 4,230± square feet. Offered turnkey with furnishings and equipment and an excellent management team in place, the transition for a new owner will be easy and ready for use on day one. It is simply an understatement to say this is a rare opportunity to own a historic and unique part of the Lowcountry.
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“The land gets inside of us; and we must decide one way or another what this means, what we will do about it.” –Barry Lopez
“I’ve always enjoyed this quote. So simple, yet rather thought-provoking. For me, it urges me not to be complacent, but to get out and enjoy the landscapes that make me feel alive. To advocate for them. To steward them. Annandale, a property with an arrangement of natural features that come together to create an indescribable landscape, will resonate deeply with the person that writes its next chapter — it will get inside of them and only then will they know the true meaning it has on their life.”
– Elliott Davenport, Jr.
Overview & Facts
- 3,486± acre historic rice plantation located twelve miles south of Georgetown, South Carolina, between Winyah Bay and the Santee River Delta, the largest river delta on the Eastern Seaboard and part of a nearly half-million-acre cluster of public and private protected lands
- Between the 24,000-acre Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center and the 24,000-acre Santee Coastal Reserve Wildlife Management Area, both significant refuges for wintering waterfowl and migrating birds, and in one of the longest stretches of undeveloped coastline on the Atlantic
- Impressive average of 5+ ducks per hunter per hunt year-in-and-year-out
- Other exceptional and historic plantations in the neighborhood include Kinloch, Rochelle, Estherville, Rice Hope, Springsteen, Moreland, and Cane Island
- 2.5± miles of frontage on Minim Creek and 3.5± miles on the Intracoastal Waterway
- Site of the first tide-operated rice mill in South Carolina
- From the driveway, you’re only twenty to forty minutes from the thriving communities of Georgetown, Litchfield, and Mt. Pleasant; and barely an hour from the restaurants of downtown Charleston
- Georgetown County Airport (GGE) is 11 miles from Annandale with a 6,005-foot runway, full-service FBO with jet fuel, mechanics, and storage options
- Well-documented ownership history traces portions of the property back to a land grant in 1732
- Annandale is protected by a conservation easement held by Wetlands America Trust that allows two subdivisions and up to five additional single-family residences, plus other building rights
- Easy transition for a new owner and ready to use on day one with excellent management team in place and offered turnkey with furnishings and equipment
- Land Class Mix: 1,700± acres of controlled wetland impoundments. Levee system and approximately 50 rice trunks are in excellent condition; 850 ± acres of uplands; 936± acres of uncontrolled tidal marsh along Minim Creek and the Intracoastal Waterway that includes Minim Island
- Historic Millbrook House, built in 1833, is an excellent example of a two-story Greek Revival house featuring a Tuscan-style portico supported by 24 foot high columns
- Millbrook, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is 6,138± square feet and has 12-foot ceilings on the first and second floors, seven bedrooms, and five and a half bathrooms
- The Millbrook House sits on an adjacent 28± acre parcel that is not part of the conservation easement and is protected by a historic facade easement with the Charleston Historic Society
- 4,230± square foot Annandale Main House with two bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms, three fireplaces, over 5,500± square feet of porches, separate two bedroom/two bathroom guest quarters, and 553± square-foot social hall
- The Annandale Cabin is 1,423± square feet with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, living room, fireplace, kitchen, laundry room, and porches
- The Shake House is 1,016± square feet with two main open living rooms separated by a double-sided fireplace, pantry room, and bathroom
- Outbuildings include: The “New Shop” a 15,000± square foot metal building built in 2020; 6,000± square foot equipment shed; The “Hay Barn” a large 3,300± square foot barn where hunters gather in the mornings; Four smaller barns which include the “Old Shop” and the “Equipment Shed at Millbrook”; The “Cooler House” an enclosed 831± square foot storage building with covered deck; Three pole barns; Land operations and management office (983± square feet)
- Seven wells supporting the improvements and four additional wells support the 30± acre upland duck impoundment
Annandale is located in the Santee River Delta on the Intracoastal Waterway and with frontage on Minim Creek and among some of the finest preserved former rice plantations of coastal South Carolina, such as Kinloch, Rochelle, Estherville, Rice Hope, Springsteen, Moreland, and Cane Island.
Standing just about anywhere on Annandale emphasizes the value of location as it relates to both wild and tame conveniences. From the southern edge of the property, you can step onto a boat nearly within earshot of the North Santee inlet’s breakers and launch to endless river, bay, and ocean adventures. From the driveway, you’re only twenty to forty minutes from the thriving communities of Georgetown, Litchfield, and Mt. Pleasant; and barely an hour from the restaurants of downtown Charleston. With a 6,005-foot runway, Georgetown County Airport is a ten-mile drive from the front gate. Both Charleston International Airport and Myrtle Beach International Airport are approximately one hour from the property.
GEORGETOWN: Located between Charleston and Myrtle Beach, the historic seaport of Georgetown is South Carolina’s third oldest city and has been an official port of entry since the 1730s. It’s a charming town with wide, heavily canopied streets and over fifty sites on the National Historic Register in Georgetown’s Historic District. Many museums, galleries, restaurants, and shops occupy the old buildings. It’s a great launching spot for ecotourism and fishing charters.
Georgetown is on Winyah Bay, well-known for its unspoiled coastlines and natural beauty. The lands on the rivers of Georgetown County have historically been some of the most coveted lands in the state.
CHARLESTON: Founded in 1670, Charleston is South Carolina’s oldest city and a charming waterfront destination with a rich history and culture. A National Historic Landmark itself, Charleston has over 2,800 historic buildings featuring well-preserved architecture, cobblestone streets, and beautiful gardens and courtyards. Charleston is recognized for its tremendous beauty, exceptional dining, world-class shopping, and unspoiled nearby beaches. It has been named the Number 1 City in the United States by Travel + Leisure for the tenth year in a row.
Annandale is the true cornerstone of the Santee Delta, both literally and figuratively. Situated in the northeast quadrant of the region once known for rice production and still legendary for ducks, this property sits at two unique 90-degree intersections – North Santee River Road and Estherville Road, and the Intracoastal Waterway and North Santee River.
On the southern border, Minim Creek and the North Santee River help form one of the few remaining undeveloped river systems in the southeast, allowing sanctuary and travel corridors for an immense amount of wildlife. Following the river and creek east, the property is then bordered by the east coast’s primary boating thoroughfare, the Waterway, running north-south. The north and west boundaries of Annandale and its Millbrook house are cushioned by tens of thousands of acres of large, like-minded, private, protected places like Kinloch, Springsteen, Pine Grove, Estherville, and Rochelle.
Perhaps most importantly, and as it relates to waterfowl hunting, Annandale is wedged between several large sections of the Santee Coastal Reserve – including Cedar, South, and Murphy Islands, to name a few.
It’s tough to imagine a sportsman’s or family’s retreat in a better position to enjoy so many specific assets.
Located within the humid subtropical region of the Atlantic Seaboard, the area features a mild climate and four distinct seasons. Georgetown’s January low averages 35°F and July highs are around 91°F. Average annual rainfall is about 54 inches and snow is rare.
History & Provenance
Annandale has a well-documented 290+ year history of reverence and prosperity. Originally named Millbrook, it was part of the 4,500 acres of land granted to Thomas Lynch in 1732. Lynch’s son sold to a relative, Andrew Johnston, in 1791, at which time the very first tide-operated rice mill in South Carolina was built on the property. By the late 1820s, Johnston’s grandson Andrew had control of Millbrook and, upon returning from a visit to Scotland, renamed the property Annandale after his European ancestral home. He also changed the spelling of his name around this time to Johnstone.
Andrew Johnstone built a Greek Revival home in 1833 that still stands today among a gorgeous grove of live oak trees and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The house, today, is referred to as the “Millbrook House” and is an excellent example of the lowcountry’s architectural style.
By the 1850s, Johnstone was regarded as the most successful planter in the area. According to the 1860 census, Annandale produced an astounding two million pounds of rice.
With the country at war, Annandale was sold to George Trenholm in 1863. Trenholm was an extremely successful businessman and Charleston merchant, one of the wealthiest men in the antebellum south. Local folklore claims that Trenholm was the inspiration for the character Rhett Butler, in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind. In 1865, he conveyed the property to his son-in-law, William Miles Hazzard, who continued to farm rice – the crop that was also attracting millions of ducks to the area.
By now, wealthy sportsmen were taking notice of this unique landscape for the waterfowlers’ paradise that it was. By the 1890s, the Georgetown region became the premier destination for eastern duck hunters. Five wealthy New York and Philadelphia gentlemen, including Alexander Chisholm of New York and Beaufort, formed the Annandale Gun Club in 1888. Chisholm was a cousin of Hazzard, and the club members lodged at Annandale but hunted up towards North Island for a period of twenty years.
With rice production fading out of existence, these wealthy northern industrialists harvested the opportunity to purchase the plantations and began conserving them and managing the old impoundments to attract wintering ducks—consequently preserving a profound expanse of South Carolina coastline.
It is interesting to note that the current Annandale property consisted of several smaller plantations, split and reassembled over the history of ownership that included Hopeland, Hopewell, Green Meadows, and Tidyman’s Marsh.
Annandale’s current owner of twenty-plus years, Dan Ray, protected the property with a conservation easement the day after he closed on it. With over 17 years of service on the Wetlands America Trust and Ducks Unlimited National Boards, Ray has been one of the most active advocates for protecting the region and ensuring the sport will be available and just as exciting for generations to come.
Check out the Garden & Gun article featuring the region and Dan Ray. (Click here)
Annandale’s fortunate location unequivocally enhances its land composition: a three-part balance of riverine marsh, managed tidal impoundments, and mixed coastal uplands. The details within the composition of each section reveal the diversity and illustrate the rarity of this place. And the conservation-driven management plan carried forward by the owner and caretaker puts Annandale at the top of its class.
The most hands-off section of the property is no less important than the rest – even if most of the wild Minim Island marshland operates on its own. Simply put, all the managed property is aided by the marsh as a nursery for an untold variety of organisms, buffer from human pressure and waterway traffic, barrier from wind and flooding, and view corridor across a vast delta landscape. If nothing else, it’s the beginning of the reason why Annandale is such a wild, peaceful place.
Annandale lies along the natural north bank and lower coastal eastern reaches of the North Santee River and Minim Creek, allowing for a connection to multiple water types. Because of the proximity to both the ocean and a brackish river, the ponds can capture saltier or sweeter (fresh) water as needed for specific vegetation growth and control. Equally important for the waterfowl, the northern ponds draw from fresh tannin-influenced swamp systems. Coupled with professional management practices, the result is a flexible plethora of habitat and food for wading birds, fish, microorganisms, and most importantly, a variety of waterfowl.
The uplands also benefit from their history and landing spot in the Santee Delta. Similar to most of the immediate coastal plain, Annandale’s uplands likely began as prehistoric stabilized sand dunes and interdune swales that eventually became mature longleaf pine forest striped with narrow, north/south cypress drains. Later the land cycled into agriculture (cotton, corn, vegetables), and, more recently, loblolly pine rotation. Currently, the 850± acre “dirt” section of Annandale is composed of planted food plots, mixed age loblolly and longleaf pine plantation, hardwood and cypress edges, live oak groves, natural fields, bicolor patches, and more.
Based upon recent years, the annual taxes are estimated at $16,000.
Recreation & Wildlife
The same three-part land composition helps frame and illustrate the overwhelming amount of available recreational activity – by water, land, and sky.
Similar to its invaluable status as a buffer, the wild marsh on Annandale’s boundary offers some incredible fishing opportunities – both as immediate habitat, and as a head-start jump-off to much more. First, it’s not out of the question to find an “inshore slam” (flounder, speckled trout, red drum) inside the property lines. Several brackish ponds on-site include all three species, and the Minim Creek marsh thrives with the same. The nearby bays and inlets are quietly known for tarpon, reds, trout, and provide an immediate path to more fishing, both offshore and in the shallows. The spectrum of exploring and/or harvesting opportunities in this immediate region is nothing short of incredible. There are beaches to visit by boat, a great array of coastal birds to study, and superb oystering, clamming, shrimping, and crabbing.
Annandale is perhaps best known for the strong history of duck variety, numbers, and quality hunts in its 1,700± acres of impoundments. Generally, these impoundments benefit from three symbiotic systems of waterfowl movement. First and most obvious is the larger eastern flyway destination of the Santee Delta and its tens of thousands of acres of private and public habitat. Secondly, Annandale connects with the more immediate travel corridor that sees ducks travel across the state down the Santee River basin, from lakes and swamps to the coast. Last and most important is the “perfect storm” of being a huge, intensely managed buffet of food situated between even larger sections of the Santee Coastal Reserve and the remnants of the old Santee Gun Club.
Based on all three factors, Annandale collects the classic coastal birds like blue and green winged teal, shovelers, widgeon, pintails, gadwall, and mottled ducks. Starting at the saltier southern edge and working north through the pond system, a duck (among many other things) can feed on numerous invertebrates, gulf coast musk grass, widgeon grass, spike, musk grass and bulrush, planted chufa and millets, wild panic grass and smartweeds, water lily, and the list goes on. The end result is that the ducks have options for food and rest within the property boundaries, and the hunters have options depending on personal preference and abilities. The duck hunts can range from a free-lance layout in needle rushes shooting gadwalls over open widgeon grass, to a brushed blind backed up to a cedar hummock with pintails piling into flooded chufa. Annandale routinely produces limit hunts, with the season average consistently being 5+ ducks per hunter per hunt.
The solid chunk of Annandale’s uplands is a sleeper, perhaps overshadowed by the wild and managed water elements of the place. That said, the 850± acres of pine woods, food plots, fallow fields, oak groves, and cypress drains provide a legitimate platform for turkey and deer hunting and plenty of expansive opportunity for quail and doves. Plenty of nice bucks have been seen or harvested on Annandale, and the turkey population is robust. The uplands are nicely separated from the primary waterfowl area to eliminate disturbance of either, and they interact with “Upper and Lower Hume” – both of which are brackish pond systems that offer roost, edge, and other benefits to the upland system.
Despite the prime location, wild river boundary, proximity to salt and fresh water, or anything else that nature and luck provide – Annandale would not be what it is today without its unmatched level of management. The owner and caretaker have, over nearly twenty years, learned and layered a unique and very successful game plan. A new owner will instantly benefit from these decades of work.
The Millbrook House
Andrew Johnstone built a stately Greek Revival home in 1833 that still stands today among a gorgeous grove of live oak trees. The house, “Millbrook,” is on the National Register of Historic Places and is an excellent example of a two-story Greek Revival house featuring a Tuscan-style portico supported by 24 foot high columns. An addition was skillfully integrated into the existing house circa 1880 and an additional wing was added in 1966. The current owner updated several of the home’s features in 2011.
The house is 6,138± square feet and has 12-foot ceilings on the first and second floors, seven bedrooms, and five and a half bathrooms. The exterior of the house is well maintained and retains its historic features, including the double entrance doors, windows, and trim work. The interior molding details in the oldest section of the house are also original. In recent history, the current owners have primarily used the house for entertainment and lodging for their guests.
The Millbrook House sits on a 28± acre parcel that is not part of Annandale’s conservation easement. The Millbrook House is protected by a historic facade easement with the Charleston Historic Society.
The Annandale House & Entertaining
The Annandale Main House is situated at a unique vantage point overlooking the managed wetlands with panoramic views south and east as far as the eye can see. The house is 4,230± square feet with two bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, wood flooring in the main living areas, three fireplaces, and over 5,500 square feet of porches.
Detached but convenient to the main house is a separate guest house with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, as well as a 553± square foot social hall and carport with storage.
Situated among live oaks not far from the main house and a great place to convene for a post hunt meal, the charming Shake House has heart pine on the floors and walls, beams, vaulted beadboard ceilings, and a small but functional country kitchen. It is 1,016± square feet with two open living areas separated by a double-sided fireplace with a pantry room and bathroom.
Annandale has been exceptionally outfitted for effective operations and management of the land. The outbuildings include: the “New Shop” which is a 15,000± square foot equipment barn built in 2020; a 6,000± square foot equipment shed; the 3,300± square foot “Hay Barn”; four smaller barns which include the “Old Shop” and the “Equipment Shed at Millbrook;” the “Cooler House” which is an enclosed 831± square foot storage building with covered deck; three pole barns; and a 938± square foot land operations and management office.
There are seven wells that support the improvements and four additional wells that support the 30± acre upland duck impoundment.