Lisa Randle named director of research and education at Magnolia Gardens

July 9, 2012

CHARLESTON, SC – July 9, 2012 –  Lisa Randle, a former conference program coordinator at the College of Charleston, has been named director of research and education at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. 

Randle replaces Preston Cooley, Magnolia’s historian who recently left to enter the seminary.  Randle’s responsibilities go beyond the role of historian for Magnolia and the Drayton Family, who founded Magnolia in 1676, said Tom Johnson, Magnolia’s executive director.    

“We are excited about having someone of Lisa’s background and caliber to help us with Drayton family history, the interpretation of the Slavery to Freedom tour and the main house,” Johnson said. “She brings another level of expertise to enhance our team of historians, writers and historic interpreters.    

“She has an understanding of Charleston’s history as well as how Lowcountry South Carolina has been influenced by European, Caribbean and West African cultures.”    

Randle said, “I am looking forward to becoming part of a dynamic team at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. I foresee an enhanced experience for all visitors to Magnolia so they get a more inclusive history of Magnolia during the tours of the house and nature train and the Slavery to Freedom tour.    

“I am also excited about working with the Drayton/Hastie family and exploring the connections with Old St. Andrew’s Parish Church, as well as continuing ongoing connections with Barbados.” The Rev. John Grimké Drayton, who established America’s oldest public garden at Magnolia in the 1870s, served for 40 years as rector of the church, longer than any other minister in the church’s 305-year history.    

Randle is the former director of education and outreach at the Avery Research Center for African-American History and Culture at the College of Charleston.

In May 2013, she is scheduled to receive a doctorate degree in historic archaeology from the University of South Carolina. Her area of study is the African American perspectives of the landscape along the East Branch of the Cooper River in Berkeley County.  

At Magnolia, Randle will work along with historic preservationist and Magnolia history consultant Joseph McGill.    

“I have been an acquaintance with Lisa Randle for years, and now I will have the pleasure of working with her to develop and interpret the resources that Magnolia possesses. This is a great opportunity to use her skills and knowledge to tell an even more inclusive story at Magnolia.”    

She will also work closely with house manager Casey Freed to include information on the house tour that gives visitors a look into how the Draytons interacted with the house staff. “We also want to have every artifact in the house catalogued and put it online to make it available for researchers and the public,” she said.