Thomasville > Vanderbilt Wade buys “Big Woods” for $22 million

| March 16, 2015

Big Woods Plantation

THOMASVILLE — Emily “Paddy” Vanderbilt Wade has paid just over $22 million to purchase roughly 4,000 acres in Thomasville, that includes the Big Woods, a large tract of old-growth forest.

The property is a portion of the Greenwood quail-hunting plantation, which was the longtime home of the late John Hay Whitney, former U.S. ambassador to Britain and owner of the New York Herald Tribune, and his late wife, Betsey Cushing Whitney. The plantation, which had been in Mr. Whitney’s family since 1899, was listed several years ago.

According to co-listing agent Jon Kohler of Jon Kohler & Associates, the property didn’t have a formal asking price. “It’s hard to value something like that,” he said.

Ms. Wade and her family created a nonprofit, the Greenwood Research Foundation, to purchase and manage the land. She said she plans to put a conservation easement on the parcel, which will be used for research on the ecology of longleaf yellow pine forests. She owns the nearby Arcadia Plantation, which contains the Wade Tract Preserve, a 200-acre swath of old-growth forest that was conserved by her late husband, Jeptha H. Wade, in 1979 for research purposes.

The plantation’s main house, built in the 1840s, and surrounding 235 acres are still on the market, but Mrs. Wade’s purchase includes seven tenant houses and a horse barn. The tenant houses were built in the late 1800s and early 1900s to house plantation employees, said Erica Hanway of Plantation Marketing Group, who listed the property along with Mr. Kohler and Erica Kohler of Jon Kohler & Associates.

The seller was the Greentree Foundation, a Whitney family philanthropic organization. Richard Schaffer, president of the Greentree Foundation, said the group decided to sell Greenwood to focus on its core mission of advancing peace, human rights and cooperation among nations. Mr. Schaffer said the foundation wanted to ensure that it found the right buyer. “Mrs. Wade was an absolutely ideal buyer,” he added, due to her “lifelong commitment to conservation.”

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