Earlier this month, Ken and Charlotte Kitchen added 10 more acres to the 90 acre Windsor Spring conservation easement, initially protected with the Land Trust in 2012. This new acreage will provide an increased natural buffer to Windsor Spring’s historic buildings and increase the preserved natural habitat of the original property. This larger green space, located in the heart of South Augusta, will help:
1. Conserve South Augusta’s scenic rural landscape,
2. Preserve over 100 acres of natural wildlife habitat the water quality of the Windsor Spring, and tributaries of Butler Creek, and
3. Protect nationally-registered historic structures that tell the story of Augusta’s heritage.
The initial 90 acre Windsor Spring conservation easement was put into place with great care and consideration by Charlotte Kitchen, whose grandfather first established the locally-renown spring water business in 1907. Her mother then continued the family business until her passing in 2007. As of today, the property has been in Charlotte’s family for five generations, with her own children and grandchildren leaving their footprints and creating memories at the “Seclusaval” homestead.
Historically speaking, the Windsor Spring is a gem. The main house, “Seclusaval”, is on National Register of Historic Places and predates the Civil War. Additionally, the property also features several out-buildings, including an outhouse, pantry, bath house,smoke house, garage and servants quarters are located behind the house. The original carriage stop and other historical features can still be found located near the main house. The property has also played an important role in Augusta since the revolutionary War, when the Walker brothers established homes on the property. They were prominent public officials and military officers, and many stories from that era revolve around the historic Seclusaval homestead.
In 1907, W.H.T. Walker Jr (Gen. Walker’s son) formed a partnership with Charlotte’s Grandfather, George M. Clarke, to operate the Windsor Spring Water Company. Mr. Clarke was successful and eventually bought the land and spring from Walker. The spring water business operated for 100 years with 15,000 gallons providing daily water to not only Augusta, but also Savannah, Charleston and Aiken, until the death of Charlotte’s mother in 2007.
From a conservation perspective, the Windsor Spring is of great importance as well. “It is one of a dwindling number of mature natural forests in this part of the county,” explains Hazel Cook, the Land Trust’s Executive Director. “As South Augusta continues to urbanize, large woodlands and pasture land like those found at the Windsor Spring become increasingly fragmented and disappear.”
Even the Windsor Spring’s landscape has experienced this phenomenon. “It (the property) used to be a lot bigger”, says Ken Kitchen. “It’s gone from thousands of acres, to hundreds, to where we are today.” Thankfully, though for this landscape, piece by piece, the Kitchens are reclaiming that which might once have been lost, and preserving this marvelous landscape for the benefit of the generations to come.
TIMELINE: AN ON-GOING, LONG-TERM PARTNERSHIP
- Summer 2007: After the passing of Charlotte’s mother, the Kitchen family reached out to Land Trust to inquire about creating a conservation easement sometime in the future
- June 2012: After years of projects around the homestead and plenty of research, the Kitchens reached out to say that they were ready to move forward with easement
- Summer 2012: Due diligence reports were completed for property to assess conservation easement purpose
- Dec 2012: Initial conservation easement signed, preserving approximately 90 acres
- 2013-2015: Kitchen family works to acquire additional acreage that once belonged to the homestead
- Spring 2016: Due diligence reports were completed for an additional 10+ acres adjacent to the original conservation easement.
- July 2016: A new conservation easement is signed, protecting an additional 10.65 acres