The land occupied by Hagley Estates first emerged from a wilderness of cypress and yellow pine toward the end of the 18th century, as planters cleared the land for the rice cultivation that dominated agriculture along the tidal rivers of South Carolina until after the Civil War.  It was one of many plantations along the rivers that made the Low Country rice planters one of the wealthiest groups in all the colonies.


Hagley got its name in 1801, when the prosperous rice planter William Alston, who had obtained the land from the Pawley family, gave the plantation to one of his sons, Joseph Alston, to celebrate Joseph’s prospective marriage to Theodosia Burr, the only child of Aaron Burr.  The Alston's were great admirers of English culture (notwithstanding the recent war), and chose Hagley to remind them of the well-known parkland of that name near London.


Joseph and Theodosia stayed only a short time on Hagley, in a modest house near the present Hagley Landing, before moving to the more elaborate plantation house at The Oaks (now part of Brookgreen Gardens).  The Alston's continued to develop Hagley as a rice plantation, but after Theodosia’s death at sea in 1812 and Joseph’s death in 1816 (after a term as governor of South Carolina), the plantation passed into other Alston hands and then, in 1837, to Francis Marion Weston.


Weston eventually gave the management of Hagley to his son, Plowden C.J.Weston, who combined it with the adjoining Weehauka Plantation (on the north side of present Hagley Drive).  Plowden C.J. Weston  became Hagley's full owner in 1854, building one of the finest plantation houses in the Georgetown District.  A cultured man, Weston had had an English education and had married an Englishwoman, Emily Frances Esdaille, who helped him in the development of Hagley and may have influenced the addition of such features as St. Mary’s Chapel, whose English-made windows now grace the apse of St. George Parish, Winyah, in Georgetown.  Weston cherished Hagley as what he called the most beautiful site of all the South Carolina rice plantations.”


When Plowden Weston died in 1864 of tuberculosis contracted during his military campaigns, Hagley fell on hard times.  The aftermath of the Civil War brought economic hardship to the Low Country‘s rice plantations, which had been heavily dependent on slave labor.  Though Weston had been known as a man who cared for the welfare of his slaves, and provided for them upon his death, there was no successor who could restore Hagley’s economic viability, and the plantation declined into obsolescence.  His fine plantation house slowly crumbled, suffering extensive fire damage around 1900, and finally succumbing to the wrecking bars of revenue agents in the early 1930s to prevent its further use by moonshiners. Its former location at the end of Rice Hope Lane is now the site of new homes.


The 20th century brought Hagley a brief revival, with the purchase of the land by the Atlantic Coast Lumber Company, which built a railroad along the present Hagley Drive/Tyson Road that ran from the Waccamaw River across the South Causeway onto Pawleys Island, where the company used the present-day Pelican Inn (built by Plowden Weston) for a vacation place for its employees.  In Hagley, the company built a hunting lodge, which formerly stood on Lodge Place just off Hagley Drive.  When the company completed its logging operations, however, Hagley again lapsed into disuse, and was largely abandoned until real estate development began in the 1960s. The lumber company had sold Hagley to the Tyson family in 1942, which conveyed it in 1965 to Robert L. Walker of Georgetown who had it surveyed and subdivided into approximately 1,200 lots.  This was the beginning of present-day Hagley Estates.


The first phase of development began in 1965 with an auction by Thompson to sell the subdivided lots, which failed to raise enough to satisfy the debt owed the Tyson family.   The property was then acquired by Frank Adamson, who improved the existing roads and cut new roads, but was himself obliged to auction properties.  At this second auction, the land comprising the present Founders Club golf course was conveyed to the golf course developers.  Subsequent conveyances led to the building of the present Quality Inn motel on U.S. 17 in 1971 and to the gradual development of Hagley Estates as a choice residential neighborhood.


The deeds to lots in the subdivision all contain restrictions on the size and height of house that can be constructed, the setbacks from property lines, the allowed uses on the lots, and other issues. To enforce these restrictions and to ensure that the neighborhood developed as a desirable neighborhood, the early property owners formed the Hagley Estates Property Owners Association.   The association continues to be a vigorous advocate of neighborhood values by enforcing the deed restrictions and by representing Hagley Estates on land use issues before the Planning Commission and the County Council.


(The foregoing history is largely derived from the histories compiled by Tony Devereux, a former Hagley resident who was also instrumental in creating the Hagley Estates Property Owners Association and by John Womack; updated by Tom Stickler)

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