GOOD NEWS: Greeter’s cabin to become garden center at Magnolia

By Herb Frazier, special to Charleston Currents  |  For many, many years a cabin has stood unused near the ticket booth at Magnolia.

Tena Lena Gilliard, photo provided

It has always been referred to as Tena Gilliard’s cabin. Tena Gilliard was a greeter at Magnolia in the early 1900s and she lived in the cabin.

In recent years, we’ve learned a lot more about Tena Gilliard when her family came to Magnolia to research their ancestor. During one of their visits, we were able to find where Tena Gilliard is buried, not far from Magnolia, and to clarify other facts about her.

Tena Gilliard’s cabin has been transformed into a garden center. It will be named the Gilliard Garden Center. More than 30 members of her family are coming to Magnolia for a dedication at 1 p.m. on April 5.

Some of her relatives are coming from New York City and will visit Magnolia for the first time. Some of them also live in Charleston and will meet relatives they’ve never seen before. This is expected to be an emotional time for the Gilliard family.

Below is the text that will be on a sign outside the Gilliard Garden Center.

Gilliard Garden Center

At the turn of the 20th century, Tena Gilliard, a greeter at Magnolia, lived in this structure that was dedicated on April 5, 2017, as the Gilliard Garden Center. During her long tenure at Magnolia, she grew to become a most revered employee whose dedication to the gardens has been memorialized through a camellia named in her honor.

Tena Gilliard was born Tena Lena Middleton on June 30, 1872, at Middleton Place. She passed away March 2, 1958, in Charleston.

Moments before her passing, “Grandma Tena,” as she is lovingly remembered by her family, began to sing, “I’m Going Home on the Morning Train.” After a few verses, Tena Gilliard whispered, “Thank you father.” Then she took her last breath.

In other good news:

New Dreamliner’s flight.  The Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner took to the skies for the first time last week in the South Carolina near the only plant that makes the jet.  The newest and longest model of the company’s 787 family, it completed a successful flight totaling four hours and 58 minutes, according to a press release.  The jet currently has won 149 orders from around the world.

RiverDogs to open season April 6.  There will be a week of celebrations and activities marking the 21st birthday party of the Joseph P. Riley Jr. Stadium (The Joe) when the team opens its season April 6.  According to a press release, “In a week featuring helicopters, cash prizes, a tribute to Tony the Peanut Man, and high-tech gizmos, the RiverDogs are pulling out all the stops as their ballpark finally comes of age.”  The lineup:

  • Thursday, April 6, 7:05 p.m.: The Joe Turns 21/Budweiser Thirsty Thursday/Magnet Schedule Giveaway
  • Friday, April 7, 7:05 p.m.: Tech Night presented by Google/ Home Telecom Fireworks/Red Shirt Friday
  • Saturday, April 8, 6:05 p.m.: Helicopter Ball Drop/Raffle Night
  • Sunday, April 9, 5:05 p.m.: MUSC Health Family Sunday in the Holy City/ Kids’ Opening Day
  • Monday, April 10, 7:05 p.m.: Dog Day/ Youth Baseball Night
  • Tuesday, April 11, 7:05 p.m.: Trendy Tuesday, Viral Trends
  • Wednesday, April 12, 7:05 p.m.: Tony the Peanut Man Night/Senior Wednesday

Single-game tickets are now available and can be secured by contacting the box office at (843) 577-DOGS (3647) or online


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