Spring Island has a long history dating back to the early 1700’s prior to the civil war and while Spring Island changed hands several times over the last 300 years, thankfully despite how different each individual owner was, the one thing all of the island’s owners had in common was that they left the vast majority of Spring Island untouched so that it’s natural beauty can still be appreciated today.
In February 1990, Spring Island was purchased from the Walker Trust (see history below) by the non-profit Spring Island Trust (a group of developers; consisting of Jim and Betsy Chaffin, Jim and Dianne Light and Peter and Beryl LaMotte). Their mission was to protect and manage Spring Island’s natural environment, document the ongoing history of Spring Island and promote the island’s availability as an inspiration for the arts.
Immediately after the purchase of the land, the new trust began a risky low-density development plan, which would leave the Island unspoiled. In order to accomplish this, they reduced the existing county permit for 5,000 residences, to a new permit for a maximum of 500 homes on the Island’s 3,000 acres. They also created a 1,200 acre Nature Preserve to be managed by the Spring Island Trust and protected indefinitely.
Working with the late Robert Marvin who was a part of the previous island trust, the world-renowned Lowcountry land planner and landscape architect who created the plans for Callaway Gardens near Atlanta and the par-3 course at Augusta National, a plan was created to preserve irreplaceable natural treasures of Spring Island such as the Live Oak Forest and the Great Salt Pond in addition to the low density permit which was one of the lowest densities of any community on the South Carolina coast, they decided to reduce the density even more to 410 home sites in 1998, following discussions with the developer and the property owners.
The final Master Plan allowed for moderate density in the areas of Walker Landing, Bonny Shore, as well as the Old Tabby Links Neighborhood. The remainder of the property was planned to permit larger homes on very large and private lots. Marvin’s creation of a ‘Nature Curtain’ shielded many of these large homes from view, even from the Island’s roads. The result was a series of very low-impact neighborhoods with total privacy and the protection of indigenous trees. The framework was in place for an environmentally-friendly community of unsurpassed beauty and distinction. Located in the pristine Lowcountry, Spring Island is unrivaled in its lifestyle, bio-diversity, comfort, and real-life experiences that combine local flavor with global sophistication. Although secluded from urban sprawl, Spring Island is conveniently connected to the nearby town of Beaufort, Bluffton and Hilton Head Island South Carolina.
Spring Island History
In 1706 when Sea Island was deeded to John Chochran, an infamous Indian trader by Lord Colleton. The island remained in the Cochran family for 3 generations until it was passed on through marriage to George Edwards who cultivated the island for cotton and it became famous for its Sea Island Cotton. Spring Island produced over 3,000 bushels of vegetables and a cotton crops worth $100,000 annually. The Edwards cultivated a 1,000 acre plantation on which they built and lived in a huge mansion. The other hundreds of acres on Spring Island remained untouched, but by 1850, Spring Island was valued at $50,000. The Edwards abandoned the mansion and Spring Island after the Civil War, but the mansions ruins still remain today along with an architectural model onsite in honor of Spring Island’s history. In 1920 it became the new home to Colonel Copp who raised livestock, crops and made the area known as Bonnie Shore his home. And the last individual owner of Spring Island was Elisha Walker Jr. who was a successful New York investor who died in 1972. Elisha turned Spring Island into the South’s most legendary quail hunting plantations complete with mule drawn wagons, Tennessee Walking Horses and fabulous hunting dogs, while leaving the island’s spectacular natural beauty largely untouched.