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Sharing the Love

Before her death last April, Emily Ravenel Farrow (above left, in 1939) ensured that her family property, Ashem Farm (above right), would be transformed into a Charleston County park. On Saturday, an auction of her belongings will include (below right, from top to bottom) Lenox china, a circa-1800 cellarette, 19th century glassware, rare South Carolina books, and Grey Day, by Corrie McCallum. Photographs (Emily Farrow) courtesy of LOLT/HCF, (Ashem Farm) by Margaret P. Blackmer, & (auction items) courtesy of Seymour Auctions

April 18, 2012

Sharing the Love
Mark your calendars for Saturday’s auction featuring prized items from philanthropist Emily Ravenel Farrow’s estate

written by Anna Evans

In recent weeks, a big, colorful sign went up outside the perpetually locked brick and iron gate on Old Towne Road near Charles Towne Landing. “Future Charleston County Park Site” it boasts—happy evidence that efforts to turn the approximately 55-acre Ashem Farm into a public park are moving along. (Don’t start scheduling picnics just yet—an extensive master planning process still has to take place).

In Charleston’s April issue, writer Harlan Greene shared the history behind the property, owned for years by the Ravenel family, who farmed vegetables and soybeans. Greene explains that in 1915, Emily Ravenel Farrow was born there, going on to found the long-running St. Andrew’s Parish Riding Academy on the farm before marrying John Ashby Farrow. Dubbing the place “Ashem,” the couple made it a second home to their grand city residence at South Battery’s William Gibbes House. To read the full article, click here.

Emily was a staunch supporter of Historic Charleston Foundation (HCF) for many years, and in the 1980s, she and Ashby sold their downtown mansion—later protected with conservation easements—to the Foundation. In 2005, Emily donated a conservation easement to HCF on Ashem Farm and willed the property to the Lowcountry Open Land Trust (LOLT). With Emily’s blessing, the land was transferred to the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission to realize her dream of transforming it into a public park.

But this preservation-minded heroine didn’t stop there. After donating many items in her collection to local museums and archives, Emily bequeathed the remainder of her estate to LOLT and HCF, with the intent that these organizations sell them to support their preservation and conservation missions. This Saturday, April 21, that sale takes place at an auction by Seymour Auctions in a North Charleston location provided by Maybank Properties.

A preview on Friday from noon to 5 p.m. will reveal antique furniture; original art by Alfred Hutty, Alicia Rhett, Corrie McCallum, Anne Worsham Richardson, and more notable artists; ceramics and fine china; sterling; metalwork; and even equestrian and farm tools. Many of the items descended through the Ravenel and Roebling families, including monogrammed linens; signed books; and a Louis Vuitton trunk originally owned by Washington Augustus Roebling (1837-1926), a civil engineer known for his work on the Brooklyn Bridge.

The auction will be conducted by Seymour Auctions at 7555 Palmetto Commerce Pkwy., North Charleston. Preview: Friday, April 20, noon-5 p.m. & Saturday, April 21, 8-10 a.m. Auction: Saturday, 10 a.m. For more details and photos of items, click here.

For more on Ashem Farm, including a video in which Emily Ravenel Farrow shares stories about her life in both town and “country,” click here.

Wed, 04/18/2012