Prior to the arrival of settlers from the Old World, Brays Island’s earliest residents were Native Americans who roamed the South Carolina coast in a loose confederacy of fishing tribes. In the early 1600s, Brays Island became part of a succession of land grants by the King of England. British Commander William Hilton, for whom Hilton Head Island was named, first wrote about discovering Brays Island in 1663.
The recorded history of Brays Island dates to the early 1600s when it became part of succession land grants by the King of England. After the Civil War, Brays Island remained a working plantation through several owners, including George Waterhouse and Francis B. Davis. In 1963, the property was purchased by Sumner and Virginia Pingree of Boston. When the farm could no longer support the plantation, Sumner worked to create a nontraditional community development that would preserve the plantation atmosphere.
Built on a high bluff overlooking the Pocotaligo River, the historic Brays Island plantation house serves as the social centerpiece of the community today. The lovely Georgian-style mansion and adjacent carriage house also function as a 13-room inn for Brays Island members and their guests.