Originally created 01/18/98

Artist saves buildings that are already gone



ST. STEPHEN, S.C. -- Jesse Jones knows what old Berkeley County plantation houses used to look like -- including some that aren't around any more.

He knows exactly how houses on Sullivan's Island appeared -- even ones that have been rebuilt. More importantly, he can show someone else. For the past 22 years, Mr. Jones has been drawing historic sites in Berkeley and Charleston counties.

He can give a detailed history of every structure he has drawn -- even for his favorites, which often are houses that no longer exist.

"As far as the tourists are concerned, they like to buy what they can go see, like all the different landmarks," Mr. Jones said. "But I did these without the intent to sell them. I did these places because I just liked them."

So did many others. Mr. Jones contributed artwork to the definitive history of the county, Historic Ramblings in Berkeley County by Russell Cross. He also has given prints of his charcoal drawings to the Berkeley Museum.

Oliver Buckles, a member of the Berkeley County Historical Society, also has asked Mr. Jones to do some drawings of several historic sites. Mr. Jones also draws historic homes in Charleston and the plantations that still stand in Berkeley County.

Among the structures he has drawn are the abandoned Taveau Church near Mepkin Abbey, the Lewisfield Plantation House and the Aiken-Rhett House. Though the historic community has known of Mr. Jones' work for some time, others are surprised Mr. Jones has created such masterpieces.

"I've known him for a couple of years, but I never knew he was such an accomplished artist," said John Hill, a friend of Mr. Jones.