Wednesday, April 15, 2015

This Beauty Of A Play Is No Sleeper

Sleeping Beauty is opening at the James F. Dean Theatre on Saturday, April 18th for a two day run. A "not so classic of a tale" adaptation of the famous Disney classic, this beauty of a play is no sleeper. You don't want to miss it.

In this children's musical version of the classic fairy tale by Bob Hammond, Queen Bea and King Bumble the Seventy Second give birth to Princess Beauty. In desperate need of money, the royal couple make plans to marry their daughter to a rich prince when she becomes of age at eighteen, but the rhyming evil witch, Carabosse, has other plans for the princess when that time arrives and plans to put a curse on Beauty. The evil witch's Zsa Zsa Gabor-like counterpart, the Good Fairy, is asked by the royal couple to counter Carabosse's evil intentions, but says, "Nothing I can do, sweetie. I mean, if I knew what spell she is going to use, well...possibly. But otherwise...look, why don't you give me a little tinkle in eighteen years?" And so, the drama begins. Among the contenders for the princess's hand are the constantly quarreling Prince Eric and Prince Henry and the not-so-rich Prince Braveheart. A spell, a spinning wheel, and lots of singing and dancing follow.

Heather Pallay steps out from behind the front box office to collaborate with "Sound of Music" standout Sarah Farra as the plays directors. Working with Bob Hammonds open script, together they masterfully personalized it with their own blend of frivolity utilizing knock-knock jokes, popular songs of the past such as "I'm a Believer" by the Monkeys and bringing it home by inserting local names like Lincolnville, Knightsville and yours truly. Thank you for the mention Flowertown Players.

Patti Kelly once again did an artful job on the colorful array of costumes and the simple set worked well with the scene changes.

The hard working cast of local young actors pooled from the Youth Theater for this production of the Flowertown Players work their magic on you with their enchanting enthusiasm and energy. Each cast member projected the personalities of their characters skillfully. Their execution of the dance choreography was near flawless and delivery of the punch lines timeless. The climatic song and dance routine is well worth a standing ovation in itself and a $10 ticket.

Honorable mentions include King Bumble the Seventy Second(Trevor Bierdz), Queen Bea(Riley Hatch), Princess Beauty(Julia Maguire), Prince Braveheart(Jackson Barnard), The Lord High Chamberlain(Bailey Dorman), Chip(Grey Hohn), Kate(Caelan Barlow), Prince Henry(Andrew Hebert), Prince Eric(Logan Farless), Carabosse(Kyra Wood), the Good Fairy(Drew Janine), and Hobgoblins 1 and 2(Alanna Campbell and Caitlyn Campbell). Fairy Dance Troupe(Elizabeth Aylward-Jahn, Eloira Carls, Mia Helm, Tanner Spencer, and Alexa Tringali).

If you are looking for some quality family entertainment this weekend, the James F. Dean Theatre is where you want to be. This fairy funny version of Sleeping Beauty will lift your spirits. It will knock your silk bloomers off and royally enrich your hearts.

Ensemble Cast Members: Audrey Campbell, Julie Cox, Chandler Schaffer, Savannah Davis, Jada Gilbert, Tyler Hanson, John Moore IV, and Sydney Reich. Backstage Crew: Gia Darconte, Emma Maguire, and Reese Addison.

$10 Adults, $7 Children under 12
Sat, Apr 18th at 1PM and 5PM
Sun, Apr 19th at 1PM
Call Box Office for tickets (843) 875-9251

Friday, April 10, 2015

A Charleston Barrier Island Tour Highly Worth A Trip To The Past

Eagerly anticipating the arrival of this day, I woke to the sounds of the whelk singing in my ears and for this sort of occasion, the wished for weather was perfectly arranged--not by my hand. With a quick breakfast and implementation of the necessary preparations, I exited my home with camera in-hand and entered my heavily dew-covered truck. The anxious drive to my anticipated destination was marred with the typical nerve racking hustle and bustle of the early morning rush hour commute. Where I was going, such things are unheard of.

With only two minutes to spare, I arrived at the Isle of Palms Marina where the 49 passenger Caretta patiently awaited my presence--by now fully loaded with its precious sightseeing cargo. The last to board, I took a seat on the pontoon boat next to a couple from Murrells Inlet, David and Sharon, whom I bonded with on the excursion.

The Captain throttled the engine and we slowly pulled away from the weatherworn docks into the salty tidal waters of Morgan Creek. The high water marks on the wooden piles perched by pelicans and egrets indicated it was low tide. After entering the nutrient rich Intracoastal Waterway lined with boat docks and island homes, we steadily crept along the no wake zone and our tour guide began his enlightening narration.

Our first stop was an area in the Copahee Sound known to locals as the Shark Hole--a ninety foot deep backwater fish bowl scoured out by the surging tidal currents spilling through Dewees Inlet from the Atlantic Ocean. The open stretch of water is an excellent feeding ground for sharks and an ideal location for bottlenose dolphin sightings. The Captain's dog named Moses, a proficient dolphin spotter, barked wildly when he located a surfacing dolphin to alert the eager passengers attempting to get that one picture-perfect shot.

It was also an appropriate time for our barefooted guide to dispel the first of the many myths people have about marine life, such as, sharks and dolphins do hang out in close proximity to one another when feeding and yes, it is safe to swim in the ocean. Jessen rattled off a long list of things more deadly to us than sharks, like sticking a fork into a toaster or simply stepping off your porch. Mostly, it is a matter of mistaken identity.

After cruising the sun soaked waters of the inlet and satisfied we had seen all the dolphin we were going to see, Courtney accelerated the Caretta to top cruising speed and we headed toward the estuaries of Capers Island and our second stop, Eco Tours crab trap. The waterway was skirted by thick stands of salt grass, oyster mounds, and the occasional fallen tree. It was an idyllic time to absorb the peaceful beauty of the unspoiled surroundings.

With a buoy marking the location of the submerged crab trap now in sight, the captain brought the Caretta to a stop. The guide grabbed a long hook and with the assistance of some of the younger passengers, pulled it onto the deck of the boat. From the trap, he chose three specimens, two blue crabs and one stone crab. He spoke extensively about their habits and place in the estuaries diverse ecosystem. Holding up the blue crab, he asked, "How can you tell which one is the male and which is the female?" With a blue crab in each hand, he continued, "The male is marked by Washington's Monument and the female is marked by the dome of the Capitol Building." He paused and then revealed the punch line. With a grin, he continued, "Men go around doing monumental things, but we all know the female is in charge." Much of Jessen's narration was accented with well placed levity.

It was now time to move on to our final destination. At this point, a course change was made. Instead of proceeding to the southern tip of Capers Island, we headed for the northern tip through the winding and narrow Santee Pass to Price Inlet. With Bulls Island across the way and an eagle perched high above on a pole keeping a watchful eye, the Caretta slid onto the quietly tranquil sands of Capers Island and one by one we disembarked for an hour and a half self-guided exploration of the island.

With each step, the soft, water-soaked sand oozed through my toes and over my feet. I could feel and smell the fresh, salty island air as it encompassed me. Adding to the feeling of remoteness, I navigated around scattered piles of reddish-brown seaweed beached by the ocean's relentless waves. Undisturbed and protected, highly prized trinkets of the beachcomber bleached by the southern sun were randomly strewn about, among them the South Carolina lettered olive. A few pieces of old driftwood laid partially buried near where the sand met the grassy dunes and increased in frequency as I continued up the front beach towards the foremost reason I came to Caper's Island. About a half mile down the beach, I could faintly see the relics of past island erosion rising out of the intruding surf, shimmering in the bright sunlight--the monarchs of Bone-yard Beach. As I stood among the weathered and fallen wooded wonders, I was filled with a sense of fascination and awe. Seeing is believing and a picture truly paints a thousand colorful words.

A trip to Capers Island is like stepping back in time to an era before the colonizing tall ships of the early settlers came to this land and called their new home South Carolina. Barrier Island Eco Tours provides a relaxing and comfortable way to experience it, if you don't mind a little salt spray on a breezy day. Our naturalist guide and Captain for the excursion, Jessen and Courtney, were superb hosts. Jessen knowledgeably shared a balanced mix of information and humor that made it interesting and fun for young and old alike, Courtney handled the pontoon boat skillfully, and Moses kept eager little ones preoccupied. At $42 a person and children 12 and under $32, I highly recommend this tour for the whole family. You will come away with a greater appreciation and understanding for Charleston's versatile and delicate barrier island estuaries--a living wonder.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Nine Places In Changing Summerville You Will Want To Visit And Photograph

With a highly celebrated historical landscape, Summerville has plenty to offer the discerning amateur photographer looking for that cherished photo memento. As you stroll Hutchinson Square and beyond, surviving remnants from the town's past are there for you to discover and capture with the click of your camera. Don't hesitate, as quick as the shutter blinks, the scene of Summerville is changing, as it has and as it will. That is the nature of things. Freeze framing the moments are imperative.

Just imagine, if you dare, even the long-standing Angel Oak will eventually succumb to the powers to be. It will be a sad day when that happens, but for those who have preserved their visit to the oldest living thing east of the Rockies with a photo, its place in time will always be remembered. What will take its place in history, only time will tell.

Summerville has been richly graced with thick groves of tall pines and old oaks. Their cooling touch and healing scent was what enticed early plantation owners to take up residence on its sandy hills. From those very same trees, they constructed their simple homes. The community grew and the trees were declared sacred. In time, some of the trees bowed to the Pine Forest Inn and an era of prosperity was ushered in. Of the trees still around today, longtime residents nurture fond memories and tell stories of playing below their broad branches.

Located near the corner where W Richardson meets Central Ave and considered the oldest tree in Summerville, the old pine is scheduled for an appointment with the axman to make way for the highly contested Dorchester Hotel project. Ragged from time and weather, the trees glory days have past. People no longer come to Summerville for health, they come for the charm, the hospitality, and the history.

We could dignify the old tree the way the Hopelands Gardens in Aiken honored one of its prominent cedars when a portion of it came down. They carved benches out of the cherished wood and placed them on site for visitors to see.

Eventually, each pine in its time will succumb to the powers to be. The scene of Summerville is changing. Like the first settlers and early town planners, may we seize the opportune moments presented to us and take Summerville into another era of prosperity.

I have picked nine places in and around Summerville's rich-in-history landscape that have become my favorite framed souvenirs. I offer this list as a suggestion of places you may want to check out and photograph on your next visit.

1) Colonial Dorchester State Park was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1969. From 1697 until the beginning of the Revolutionary War, the trading town of Dorchester flourished along the Ashley River, inland from colonial Charleston. Abandoned at the start of the Revolutionary War, the town of Dorchester has all but disappeared, leaving only the remains of a brick bell tower from St. George's Anglican Church, the foundation outline of a colonial home and a the fort made of an oyster-shell concrete called tabby. More pictures.

2) Linwood Bed and Breakfast was built on a two-acre site in 1883 by Julia Drayton Hastie, heiress to Magnolia on the Ashley Plantation. Ancient camellias, azaleas, majestic magnolias and stately palms dominate the properties landscape. Elevated porches offer a panoramic view of the lush, more formal gardens. It has been a bed and breakfast for over 13 years, officially opening in 1995 with elegant guest rooms, private baths, secluded sitting areas, a large swimming pool, and wide porches. More pictures.

3) Guerin's Pharmacy was founded in 1871 by Dr. Henry C. Guerin after buying out Schwettman Drugstore and moving the business to South Main Street and Richardson Ave. The Dunnings later acquired the pharmacy in 1975. When they were remodeling the interior they discovered a white chalk message scrawled on a wall by Joe Guerin in an upstairs office. The message documented the tragic sinking of the Titanic in 1912. It is the oldest operating pharmacy in South Carolina. Today, you can order a float, milkshake, hot dog or lemonade from its fountain.

4) My favorite of the old inns, White Gables was built by the Peake Family somewhere between the 1830's and early 1850's. In the early 1900's, Sara Woodruff developed a fondness for the near 65 year old house located on the corner of Richardson Ave and Palmetto Street. What happened next gave birth to her distinguished story and White Gables fame. Both fascinating and amusing, it is a story unlike any other in Summerville history. More pictures.

5) Middleton Place on the Ashley was settled in the late 17th century with its main family residence constructed in 1705. The estate encompasses America's oldest landscaped gardens called "the most important and most interesting garden in America." The Gardens were started by Henry Middleton in 1741. In 1952, Middleton Place began welcoming visitors to its gardens year-round. Every year Middleton Place host the finale of the Spoleto Festival. In the spring from April to May, on Wednesday, you can enjoy the gardens and sample old and new world wines at the Wine Stroll. More pictures.

6) Arriving and departing guests of the Pine Forest Inn passed through these decorative columns for forty years, beginning in 1891. The inn was world renown and visited by many celebrities, a showcase among Southern inns. It was advertised as being "situated on the outskirts of one of the prettiest villages in the Southland." The columns are all that is left of the Pine Forest Inn.

7) In 1938 Elizabeth Arden bought a summer home in Summerville South Carolina. The house is located at 208 Sumter Ave. It was built in 1891 for Mr. Samuel Lord, a Charleston attorney. The house was built by A. J. Baird, the man who also constructed the Pine Forest Inn. The house is still standing, but the inn was torn down. Elizabeth Arden sold the house in 1954. It had 15 rooms with 12 foot ceiling.

8) The Canada Geese on Hutchinson Square is part of The Birds in Residence Downtown Summerville Project--a collaborative effort by Summerville DREAM, Sculpture in the South, and the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest. The B.I.R.D.S. are located throughout Downtown Summerville for you to search out. Maps are available to assist you.

9) Bell Tower next to Town Hall in Downtown Summerville at sunset. I took this picture during a Third Thursday--Summerville's monthly party.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

"Dearly Departed" Now Showing--Drop-Dead Delightful

Why we Americans find family dysfunction amusing is an enigma and the 1991 crazy comedy written by David Bottrell and Jessie Jones now playing at the James F. Dean Theatre banks on that fact. From the moment "mean and surly" Bud Turpin's head thumps the kitchen table to his incurably maladjusted family's final farewells, the laughs are non-stop and you will depart the Flowertown Players latest offering pathetically delighted and neurotically charmed.

With its somewhere South of the Mason-Dixon Line setting, Dearly Departed is a made-for-Summerville play. With the sudden death of their patriarch, the Turpin's are fatefully thrust into one another's company to deal with giving Bud Turpin a decent burial, but with each family member froth with personal problems of their own, the task becomes amusingly complicated.

Raynelle Turpin, who apparently had a love-hate relationship with her husband, wants to put "mean and surly" on the headstone and in a meeting with the frustrated pastor who is seeking to write a virtuous eulogy, she sums up things by saying, "That's because you didn't know him till he was old and sick."

Raybud, the oldest son, concerned about the costs, neurotically thinks the owner of the funeral home handling the burial arrangements might seek revenge on him for a childhood prank and mostly concerned for the cost of each letter, differs with his mother over the wording on the headstone. Junior, the other son, who is teetering on financial ruin and thinks about running over his wife with his big cleaning machine in a K-Mart parking lot, is further embarrassed when she discovers an earring in the backseat of the car while yelling at their out-of-control children on their way to his mother's house.

Then, add to the mix a wooden spoon wielding, Bible thumping, hellfire sister, an unemployed, somewhat philosophical nephew with dreams of getting married so he can go on welfare, Raynelle's seemingly unemotional daughter bent on consuming bags of potato chips and dilly bars for comfort in the chaos and the Turpin's circle of life is complete. In the end, despite themselves, the disinclined family and friends come together to give Bud his final send-off .

That's the whole, incredibly wacky story and its colorful collection of characters, and the challenge of bringing it all to life was masterfully accomplished by the plays able cast. As the candid Raynelle Turpin, matronly Jennifer Gordon's performance will put a chuckle in your smile. Chad Reuer as the daughter Delightful proved that men make the funniest woman and comical can be accomplished in just a few words. Chad Estel and Hannah Weston, fresh off a top notch performance in the highly acclaimed Moonlight and Magnolias, excelled once again as the plays splintered couple, unfaithful Junior and his distraught wife, Suzanne. Alan Rosenfeld as cautious spending Raybud presided over the affair with dignified flair and Jennifer Kliner portrayed Lucille, the character who brought a small dose of sanity into the family despite dealing with a personal crisis of her own, with sensible style. Show-stealer Rhonda Kierpiec judiciously wielded her Bible like her wooden spoon as Marguerite. Rounding out the cast and deserving honorable mention are Barry Gordon(Reverend Hooker), Daniel Rich(Royce), Anne O'Sullivan(Juanita), Robert Venne(Clyde), RaeAnn Estel(Nadine), Sacha Estel(Oprah), Sierra Solders(Norval), and Kerry Bowers(Veda).

Director John Bryan and crew have put together a beautiful set with smooth and easy to follow scene changes accompanied by effective lighting and props.

The Flowertown Players just keep on cranking out the hits. Dearly Departed is the latest addition to its very successful 2015 season. It's a simple story about a small town, southern American family seriously in need of a dose of Xanax--figuratively speaking. Its collection of Mayberry-like characters will leave you rolling in the aisles with laughter and warm your socially dysfunctional hearts. Now showing from March 20-29. Purchase your ticket to this drop-dead delightful play at Flowertown Players.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Summerville Is Set To Fling Its Spring Doors Wide Open For Flowertown Festival 2015

Pack your wallets and put on a sweet tea smile, Summerville will fling its spring doors wide open on March 27-29 for its annual Flowertown Festival. Scheduled to ideally coincide with the yearly azalea bloom, the town's beautiful and historic Azalea Park on South Main Street will be transformed into a maze of tents and booths. It is estimated about 250,000 people from all over the Lowcountry and the Southeast U.S. attend this craft and food fare extravaganza.

Summerville's famous Azalea Park was started in 1933 and completed in 1935. All the flowers planted in the park, 33,000 of them, came from George Segelken's Summerville Floral Nursery. Mr. Segelken was a pioneer in the propagation of azaleas.

Azalea Park on a Sunday in Spring
During its early years, tourists flocked to the park. On any Sunday afternoon in spring, cars lining South Main Street bumper to bumper were a common sight. They not only came for the spectacle of beauty, but also because azaleas were an uncommon sight and relatively unknown in South Carolina, except in Summerville.

A scene in Azalea Park today
The flowers are the official doorkeepers of spring and turn Summerville into a shimmering sea of magnificent masses of magenta and various other colors of the spectrum. Drive anywhere throughout the town's historic district and you will be thoroughly convinced; Summerville is rightfully crowned the "Flower Town in the Pines."

Rightfully the "Flower Town in the Pines" because Summerville is also famous for its pine trees. But unfortunately the pollen bloom that rains down from its branches when the weather warms is not enthusiastically embraced with happy celebration like the azaleas. Having said that, pine trees and azaleas are a perfect collaboration because azaleas grow well in the tree's shadows.

The current festival was predated by a previous festival. In 1941, Summerville celebrated the first Azalea Festival--a four-day event that included dances, concerts, a parade and a formal ball. The festival promoted local business and celebrated the town's community pride--a pride as old as the pines.

With an origin that goes back to 1972, the Flowertown Festival ranks as one of the largest festivals in the Southeast. The three-day affair also carries the well deserved distinction as one of the Top 20 events in the Southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society. One of the main features of this family-oriented festival centers around the promotion of arts and crafts. More than 200 jury-selected craft artisans and vendors will be given the opportunity to showcase their creative wares throughout Azalea Park.

The Taste of Summerville is another feature that offers festival-goers a chance to sample appetizers, main courses and desserts from local restaurants. A Children’s Jubilee located at the corner of 6th Street and S. Main Street will be set up with activities and rides to entertain your little ones. There will also be plenty of live entertainment. Photographer, Susan Roberts, has been chosen as the artist to represent the Summerville Family YMCA's flagship fundraiser.

The new Kids Fest Blooming Artists, on Saturday, March 28, has been added to the festival. This will be a fun way for boys and girls ages 8-18 to express themselves visually and encourage the creative growth of young people. Blooming Artists will be located directly across from the Farmer's Market on 2nd and Main Street.

What do local residents have to say about the Flowertown Festival?
Carol--"Spring is here...and we see some people that we haven't seen since Fall. Also, means a weekend off."
James--"It means more yard art for us."
Maureen--"Having the opportunity to support small businesses and artists that offer handcrafted items! I have a definite love for handcrafted items, especially soaps - I remember, for a few years running, buying enough to last QUITE a while. Lol. My youngest (now 11) loves to come with me as well, and the $20 I normally give her to spend is quickly and happily put to use."
Vanessa--"Love, love, love it. It's Summerville's time to shine and we always do!"
Megan--"This will be our first! Can't wait!! Yay for Spring!"
As for me, I enjoy the live musical entertainment. It is also a great event to meet new acquaintances and of course, people watch.

It was a cold season in the Lowcountry. As we wave farewell to the winter, we happily welcome the warmer days of spring and embrace its arrival with colorful enthusiasm. The azalea bloom, just getting underway, is setting the stage for the premier event of the year. Come and experience Summerville's southern beauty, charm, and community pride. Come and celebrate the Flowertown Festival March 27th to the 29th. Admission is free and parking is free. Times Friday and Saturday are 9:00am to 5:00pm and Sunday 9:00am to 4:00pm.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Summerville 2015--Springing Into Action At Every Turn Of The Corner

What do you do on the warmest day since late October? Going to Sullivan's Island to catch up on some long overdue beach time was my first capricious thought. Sitting on the wooden deck of RB's along the water's edge of Shem Creek was my second. As the roulette wheel of random options spun around and around in my mind, more predictably appeared. After all, in the Lowcountry, the places are many and the choices are numerous. Then, suddenly and unexpectedly, the mental pointer whimsically stopped on the idea of taking a leisurely stroll around Summerville to catch up on some of the latest and upcoming additions to the downtown area's growing culinary scene. My spring walk took me to West Richardson and Short Central where the colors of spring painted the dogwoods and a chorus of saws filled the warm air.

Alessandra's has moved to the corner of Short Central and West Richardson. Enclosed with black posts and broad beams, the restaurant has added a large, outdoor patio to its new venue. Reviews for this restaurant are mixed, but many locals consider it a favorite. It was always a great place to enjoy a pizza and people watch on a Third Thursday. One of its highlights was the live piano music.

Summerville is getting its first oyster bar. Shuckin' Shack is moving into the space vacated by Allessandra's. Presently under construction and soon to open, it specializes in fresh steamed and raw seafood (oysters, shrimp, clams, crab legs, mussells). It presently can be found at two locations, both in North Carolina--Carolina Beach and Wilmington. Coastal Living named Shuckin' Shack as one of their 22 favorite seafood dives and it was voted Best Wings at the Carolina Beach location.

The biggest surprise of the day was not so obvious when looking across West Richardson from Short Central towards longtime bar and grill favorite, Montreux. I knew the Montreux was in the process of redoing its outdoor patio, but when I approached the corner of the building and the back space came into view, I was pleasantly blown away. The outdoor venue had been turned into a beautiful piazza with pergola style dividers, stone pavers, strategically located fans for cooling on those steamy nights of summer and a full bar with big screen televisions. It is now open to the public.

Montreux was voted #1 Bar, #1 Happy Hour, #1 Date Spot, and runner-up Best Place for Trivia by locals in the Summerville Journal Scene's 2014 Reader's Choice Awards. How the bar and grill got its name is an interesting read. For the full story you can click on The Story of Montreux.

Summerville is rapidly reclaiming its rightful place among the Lowcountry's premier tourist destinations and 2015 is shaping up to be a pivotal year. With the incorporation of the Lowcountry Loop Trolley in February, Summerville is now directly linked to Charleston and points beyond with the Trolley's Hop On, Hop Off service--reminiscent of its early railroad days when it was the first stop out of Charleston. The ever popular Good Eats on the Sweet Tea Trail Trolley Tours have been scheduled for March, April, and May. The B.I.R.D.S. Project is in place to assist locals and visitors in discovering the downtown area and its history. Sooner than later, Summerville will have its first craft brewery--Oak Road Brewery. Lest we not forget, it is the home of the best monthly party in the Lowcountry known as Third Thursday.

Walk it, ride it, shop it, dine it. At every turn of the corner, the signs of a prospering Summerville are as discernible as the blooming dogwoods of spring 2015. Things are heating up.

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Charleston Bed And Breakfast That Has Stood The Test Of Time

Strolling down Broad Street, you can't miss it. Standing proud and adorned in the finest iron works, the John Rutledge House has stood the test of time--with a little help. During its two hundred and fifty-two year history, it has weathered two natural catastrophes, quenched a conflagration of a great magnitude, and evaded the destructive forces of political dissension. Inspired by love, it is now a prominent, 4 diamond rated bed and breakfast.

John Rutledge was a leading figure in the countries early years. He was a delegate to the South Carolina Assembly, the Stamp Act Congress, the Continental Congress, the U.S. Constitutional Convention, where he signed Constitution, and six years the Governor of South Carolina. He built the home on Broad Street in 1763. It was a wedding gift for his young bride Elizabeth Grimke, the daughter of Charleston lawyer Frederick Grimke. Elizabeth is known in the history books for having breakfast with George Washington when he was a guest at the Rutledge House while on a Presidential visit to Charleston in 1791.

The house went through a renovation in 1853. A third floor was added at this time along with architectural enhancements, Italian marble fireplaces, parquet floors and the elaborate palmettos and eagles ironworks believed to be the work of famed nineteenth-century wrought iron manufacturer, artisan, and entrepreneur Christopher Werner.

On Dec. 11, 1861, Charleston would experience a night of terror and disaster. It would be called the Great Fire of 1861 and it consumed much of the cities famed landmarks. With the flames literally at the home's doorstep, surprisingly, it escaped the conflagration, but the building next door was completely destroyed--St. Andrews Hall was the location where the Articles of Secession were drawn up. The house did take a hit from a Union cannon ball that put a hole in the upper right side on the front.

For more than a hundred years after the Civil War, it served as a residence, office, and a school. Eventually, its hallowed halls fell silent. It remained that way for several years. Then, in 1989, an effort to return it to its former glory with a major restoration was undertaken. When completed, the beautiful inlaid floors, decorative plaster work, and welcoming staircase that was inspired by love and presented as a gift were back in place along with an array of modern conveniences and ready for the next phase of its continuing history. It opened for business as the John Rutledge House Inn.

The Inn has 19 rooms and suites, all elegantly appointed with period pieces and reproduction furniture--some suites have 12 foot ceilings and whirlpools. Two secluded carriage houses are also available. For a view overlooking Broad Street, you can sit on its piazza, and for a more intimate setting, there is the private courtyard--both ideal places to enjoy the complimentary breakfast and afternoon teas offered by the Inn

The rates range from $260 for a Ground Floor suite to $445 for the Grand Suite with prices in-between depending on accommodation. The Inn is pet friendly.

Surrounded by the best of Charleston, the John Rutledge House Inn is ideally outfitted for you and your family to absorb the ambiance of the cities famed hospitality and historical charm. With a glorious history of its own reaching back 252 years, for a brief moment you will live like a Charlestonian Rutledge being served the traditional afternoon tea and evening brandy. Inspired by love, it has stood the test of time.

Just a short walk down Broad Street from the John Rutledge House Inn is Fast and French.