Magnolia Plantation Historic White Bridge Badly Damaged by Fallen Tree | Tourism

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Amid a tourist season slowed by unexpected closings and low attendance, one of the Charleston area’s most popular attractions has taken on a new challenge this week.

The White Bridge, a historic and frequently photographed location at Magnolia Plantation & Gardens, was badly damaged by a fallen tree.

“This is a year for the record books,” said Magnolia Executive Director Tom Johnson. “You think you’ve been through the coronavirus, then the universe throws a tree over your bridge.”

At around 7 p.m. Tuesday, a large tree fell and landed on the bridge, deforming the deck, causing major structural cracks and tearing off most of the guardrails and posts of the left side rail. By mid-morning the next day, the tree was cut and transported.

The bridge itself and the trails around it are closed until further notice.

Work is underway to fully assess the damage, plan repairs and acquire the hard-to-find wood they will need to rebuild it. The good news, Johnson said, is that Magnolia has professionals on staff who will restore the bridge themselves.

“We will not outsource it,” he said. “That way we can make sure it goes back to exactly the way it was.”






White bridge of the magnolia plantation

Magnolia Plantation & Garden staff members will soon be working on repairs to the White Bridge, a structure dating from around 1840 that was damaged by a fallen tree. Magnolia Plantation / Supplied


The bridge, like many structures in Magnolia, is historic, built in the 1840s when owner John Grimké Drayton was in the process of creating the property’s romantic-style gardens.

Johnson said they had old photographs and drawings of the bridge that they would refer to during the repair process. They also have a small-scale replica of the bridge built for a summer display last year at the US Botanic Garden in Washington, DC.

The work done to create this replica will likely help guide the team as they repair the real thing, Johnson said. If all goes well, he guessed they would be done in about 30 days.

Concerned brides have already reached out, he said, worried about whether this will be fixed in time for their outdoor nuptials, which are resuming in the gardens after a hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Magnolia’s Facebook post on the damaged bridge had been shared about 1,200 times as of Thursday morning, and more than 700 comments were posted.

“It’s hard to believe how much this bridge meant to people’s lives,” Johnson said.

The gardens remain open seven days a week. Magnolia was one of the first local attractions to reopen after it was temporarily closed due to COVID-19. The grounds of the site were reopened on May 1 after a closure of approximately six weeks.

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