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Garden Center Dedicated at Magnolia

More than 30 members of Tena Gilliard’s Family will be on hand for ceremony


April 4, 2017
From Staff Reports

For many, many years a cabin has stood unused near the ticket booth at Magnolia Plantation & Gardens. It has always been referred to as Tena Gilliard’s Cabin.

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,” says Herb Frasier, public relations and marketing manager for Magnolia. “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 now been transformed into a garden center. According to Frasier, 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 Wednesday, April 5.

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

Below is the text that will be placed on a plaque outside the 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.

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