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Representing the largest area of privately protected land on James Island, the Dill Sanctuary is a 580-acre wildlife refuge rich in historic features. Although not open for daily public visitation, the Museum provides special programs at the site throughout the year.
First and foremost, a wildlife preserve, the Dill Sanctuary is home to a vast array of birdlife. A six acre wildlife pond with three nesting islands attracts numerous wading birds, including threatened wood storks, while maintained fields, surrounded by woodland, provide habitat for songbirds, wild turkeys and raptors.
A microcosm of Lowcountry cultural history, human habitation at the Dill Sanctuary has been documented in the archaeological record to 8,000 years ago, and it was the site of three plantations during the colonial and antebellum periods, which used enslaved labor to produce primarily food crops for the Charleston market. The property also contains two African American cemeteries, the last resting place of enslaved people and their descendants, and four earthen Confederate fortifications that were part of the Civil War defenses of Charleston.
Significant historical, archaeological and ornithological research has been conducted at the Dill Sanctuary over nearly four decades. Related archaeology reports are available here
Although not open for daily public visitation, the Museum provides special programs at the Dill Sanctuary throughout the year. These include school group visits, five weeks of Nature Trailers summer camp in June and early July, scheduled and by-reservation group tours of the Civil War batteries, archaeology features and Revolutionary War sites on the property, an annual oyster roast held in February, a community day in October, as well as other special events.
In the Museum’s Armory, see excellent examples of historic weaponry, dating from 1750 to the twentieth century, with uses that ranged from military to more personal applications such as hunting and dueling.
In the Lowcountry History Hall, see materials relating to the Native Americans who first inhabited the Lowcountry and the African American and European settlers who transformed the region into an agricultural empire.
In the Natural History gallery you will see an extraordinary array of birds, reptiles and mammals that have called the South Carolina Lowcountry home since prehistory, including contributions from noted naturalists.