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Hutchinson House Director and Storytelling Team Announced

CRBJ Biz Wire //September 5, 2023//

Hutchinson House Director and Storytelling Team Announced

CRBJ Biz Wire //September 5, 2023//

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Hutchinson House on Edisto Island

As the Edisto Island Open Land Trust (EIOLT) prepares for the final phase of restoration of the historic Hutchinson House on Edisto Island in October, we are excited to announce the new interpretive team funded by the Mellon Foundation (insert link to Mellon announcement). The capacity building grant supports the interpretation of the house and grounds, funds the director position for three years and allows the project to hire a number of interpretive consultants.

EIOLT is thrilled to share the news that Sarah Stroud Clarke has been hired as the first Director of the Hutchinson House historic site. Sarah Stroud Clarke comes to the project from a 16-year tenure at Drayton Hall Preservation Trust (DHPT) where she was most recently Director of Museum Affairs and oversaw all curatorial, education, and museum programing work. She was also the Curator of Collections at Drayton Hall, in charge of caring for and interpreting the extensive decorative arts collection, and was the Drayton Hall archaeologist until August of 2021, overseeing all archaeological excavations and laboratory analyses. In 2018 she led the Drayton Hall curatorial team in developing the interpretive spaces of the Sally Reahard Visitors Center and the creation of the inaugural exhibit, An Agreeable Prospect: The Creation of a South Carolina Palace and Garden in the Stephen F. and Laura D. Gates Gallery. For the past two years, Drayton Hall has partnered with the Antiques Council in the presentation of the Charleston Antiques Show in which she has envisioned and designed the entrance exhibits, From the Vault: 18th Century Silver (2022) and A Century of Ceramics (2022). Stroud Clarke also guided the changing interpretation at Drayton Hall in recent years to bring the previously untold stories of enslaved individuals to life and incorporate their stories into each aspect of interpretation. This work won the 2021 group/organization award from The South Carolina African American Heritage Commission under the theme “Preserving Our Places in History: Lest We Forget.” Stroud Clarke brings her museum expertise to the Hutchinson House historic site to guide the development of a new museum experience and to bring the vastly important stories of the Hutchinson House and surrounding community to life.

In tandem with the hiring of the Sarah as the new Director, EIOLT is also thrilled to announce that Joshua Parks is joining the team to lead an oral history and multi-media project. Parks will create digital profiles of core Hutchinson House community members whose memories are essential to telling the story of the Hutchinson House. As a filmmaker and photographer, Joshua has most recently worked with the International African American Museum (IAAM) and has been involved in the production of several core digital exhibitions including Carolina Gold, Gullah Geechee Overview film, Memories of the Enslaved, Praise House, Flashpoint Interviews, and more.

The third member of the new Hutchinson House team is Denzel Wright, who will serve as the Hutchinson House project photographer, documenting the ongoing restoration work of the circa 1885 house, and the creation of the new museum. Wright is a native of Edisto Island and recently discovered his direct connection to the Clark Community that Jim Hutchinson founded in 1875 and of which the Hutchinson House is the only remaining home.

“This is an incredible time for the Hutchinson House project, and the generous funding from the Mellon Foundation has made it possible for us to attract such a high level of expertise, local knowledge, and passion for this important history.” John Girault, EIOLT Executive Director.

The Hutchinson House, listed on the National Register in 1987, represents one of the oldest houses on Edisto identified with the African American community after the Civil War. Henry Hutchinson built the home circa 1885 as a wedding gift for his bride, Rosa Swinton Hutchinson and they lived there until their deaths in 1940 and 1949, respectively. The home stood as a shining example of what could be achieved when a community comes together to persevere and flourish.

Since purchasing the property in 2016, the Edisto Island Open Land Trust’s primary focus has been on saving this endangered historic house from collapse and restoring it to its original appearance in order to share the house and site with the public. Fundraising for this important project will be ongoing and contributions can be made by mailing a check to the Hutchinson House c/o EIOLT, P.O. Box 1, Edisto Island, SC 29438, or online at www.edisto.org.

The mission of The Edisto Island Open Land Trust is to preserve the rural quality of life on Edisto by protecting lands, waterways, scenic vistas, and heritage through conservation and education. Over 50% of Edisto Island has been protected through partnerships with landowners and local and national organizations and agencies.

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