Monday, November 14, 2016

California's Pigeon Point And Point Montara Lighthouses--Picturesque Places With Plenty To See And Do

From St. George Reef to Point Loma, California's 840 mile coast has been lighted by 33 lighthouses. I have visited four thus far, all near the multifaceted and diverse city of San Francisco. Often located on perilous points shrouded in fog, the only access to some of these historical wonders was either walking through a dark tunnel cut into a tall cliff, traversing a suspended bridge high above crashing surf or descending steep, narrow stairs hewed out of a jagged rock face. This was true for the lighthouses located at Point Reyes and Point Bonita. For Pigeon Point and Point Montara, it was just a matter of pulling off coastal Highway 1 and walking to the lighthouses.

It was January 28, 1853. The 175-foot clipper ship, with a gilded pigeon as its figurehead, just left the port of Boston. On its maiden voyage, the Carrier Pigeon's crew and cargo were bound for San Francisco. On the morning of June 6th, the vessel was spotted off Santa Cruz. As the day progressed, the ship became shrouded in a thick blanket of fog near the Point of the Whales. The captain, thinking he was a safe distance from land, steered his vessel shoreward, but before land was spotted, it struck rocks and began to sink. After the captain and crew made it safely to shore, efforts to salvage a good portion of its 1,300 tons of cargo was carried out, but the ship valued at $54,000, still stranded on the rocks, was a total loss. Since the time of the wreck, Point of the Whales was renamed Pigeon Point.

Three more ships were lost near Pigeon Point in the 1860's. Now considered the most fatal location on the Pacific coast to navigators, the editor of the San Mateo County Gazette wrote the following in 1868, "It behooves those most interested in maritime affairs on the coast as well as in the East to bring their influence to bear immediately upon the government officials, and never relax their efforts until a light-house is erected at Pigeon Point."

With a 35-foot cliff, Pigeon Point was an ideal spot to build a lighthouse. The fog signal and Victorian fourplex were completed first, and the twelve-inch steam whistle, with four-second blasts separated alternately by seven and forty-five seconds, was fired up for the first time on September 10, 1871. The 115-foot tower with a flash pattern of light every 10 seconds was exhibited for the first time on November 15, 1872.

Today, Pigeon Point Lighthouse is the second tallest on the West Coast and has a first-order Fresnel lens light visible for more than 20 miles. It is closed to the public and currently being renovated. The Coast Guard Family Quarters on sight, built in the 1960's, is used for a hostel.

Nearly 90 vessels had collided into the jagged rocks off Point Montara by the mid-1800s, but two of Point Montara's most notable shipwrecks occurred on November 9, 1868 and October 17, 1872 with the grounding of the Colorado, a large Pacific Mail steamship carrying hundreds of passengers and the U.S. mail, and the British sailing ship, Aculeo, colliding into its hidden rocks after being lost for more than three days in blinding fog. With these two incidents, Congress was forced into action.

Point Montara was originally established in 1875 as a fog signal station, which was updated in 1902 with a new fog signal building. The first light was established in 1900 and consisted of a red lens-lantern hung on a post. A fourth-order Fresnel lens was installed in 1912 on a skeleton tower. The light was electrified in 1919. Finally, in 1928, the current 30-foot cast-iron tower was installed to house the Fresnel lens.

While the two shipwrecks are striking events related to the Point Montara Lighthouse, its claim to fame was uncovered in 2008. It was discovered that the current Point Montara lighthouse had another life. It was built in 1881 and erected on Wellfleet Harbor in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where it stood until the light station was decommissioned in 1922. From Cape Cod, the lighthouse made a 3,000-mile journey to Yerba Buena Island in San Francisco Bay, where it waited in a depot until finally being installed at Point Montara in 1928. It is currently the only known lighthouse to have stood watch on two oceans.

Today, Point Montara Lighthouse is also a hostel. The views of the coastline and ocean are stunning. Ice plants bearing yellow blooms cover the cliffs. An old bridge with a waterfall below it empties onto a beautiful secluded beach.

Not far from Point Montara Lighthouse is the quaint little city of Half Moon Bay. Known as the World Pumpkin Capital, producing 3,000 tons of the orange gourd, every fall people from all over California and places beyond descend on this old city for its Pumpkin Festival. Its Main Street is a pleasant walk featuring old shops and old hotels. Painted on the side of one of its old buildings is a depiction of another famous event that takes place nearby at Pillar Point, the Mavericks Invitational Surf Contest. The world's best surfers come here in the winter to pit their skills against waves that can rise over 50 feet high known as the Mavericks. It is said, when the waves break, the resulting sound is thunderous.

Other points of interest are Half Moon Bay State Beach, Montara Mountain, Pillar Point Harbor, Devil's Slide, and the Ritz-Carlton, the oceanside hotel where American Wedding was filmed. For a complete list, go to Half Moon Bay.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

California's Point Bonita And Point Reyes Lighthouses--Both Stir The Imagination And Their Unmatched Scenery Stoke Your Inspiration

The vast Pacific Ocean is Earth's largest body of water. Its unrelenting waves are raw, powerful, and explosive. From north to south, they roll onto the shores of the longest stretch of state coastline in the United States. Framed by sheer cliffs, jagged rocks, and wind swept beaches, the intimidating California coast is both awe-inspiring and often deadly.

On recent visits to the Golden State, I have traveled its winding 656 mile Highway 1 from the Big Sur to Point Reyes hiking trails draped by ice plants to cliff-bound sandy beaches where I scaled water-soaked jagged rocks to engulf myself in the coast's natural mystique and document it with the most descriptive photographs, all the time weary of the possibility of being swept away by the Pacific's illusive sneaker wave. A vantage point that was also perfect for viewing the man-made structures built upon these picturesque sea cliffs for the distinct purpose of warning mariners of the hidden dangers characteristic to the California coast, the State's legendary lighthouses.

From St. George Reef to Point Loma, California's 840 mile coast has been lighted by 33 lighthouses. I have visited four thus far, all near the multifaceted and diverse city of San Francisco. Often located on perilous points shrouded in fog, the only access to some of these historical wonders was either walking through a dark tunnel cut into a tall cliff, traversing a suspended bridge high above crashing surf or descending steep, narrow stairs cemented into a jagged rock face. This was true for the lighthouses located at Point Reyes and Point Bonita. For Pigeon Point and Point Montara, it was just a matter of pulling off Highway 1 and walking to the lighthouses.

Both north of San Francisco Bay, Point Bonita and Point Reyes lighthouses are very similar in both design and placement, but each have features and a history unique to itself. Both lighthouses stir your imagination and their unmatched scenery stoke your inspiration.

The Golden Gate's rebellious currents, dangerous shoals, and persistent clinging fog had impeded the journey of many a vessel. 300 boats ran aground near the Golden Gate during the gold rush years. In the 1850's, mariners cried for a light to mark the entrance to the Golden Gate and the 300-foot Point Bonita was selected for a lighthouse site. A fifty-six-foot, conical brick tower with a second-order Fresnel lens went into operation on May 2, 1855. A one-and-a-half-story brick and stone cottage was built near the tower for the keeper of the light. When the light was cloaked in fog, an eight-foot long cannon was fired as a fog signal. In 1874, the first steam siren was installed.

Locating the lighthouse on top of the 300-foot Point Bonita proved to be a mistake. California fog is characteristically high, leaving lower areas clear. A site on the tip of Point Bonita 180-feet lower was selected for the new lighthouse. To reach the site, tunneling through a rock-cliff was required. The 118-foot hand-hewed tunnel and trail proved to be challenging due to the unstable rock. A new 3-room brick structure was built to support the upper half of the original lighthouse that was moved to the new site in 1877, including the Fresnel lens. The new lighthouse went into operation on February 1, 1877.

In time, part of the trail eroded and collapsed into the surf 124-feet below. A wooden causeway was built. Later, it was replaced by a suspension bridge, which appropriately mirrored the style of the Golden Gate Bridge. Again, in 2010, the lighthouse was closed to the public due to the rusting and unsafe condition of the bridge. It too was replaced and the lighthouse reopened in 2011.

Point Bonita is part of the Marin Headlands. From the parking area, it is a 0.5 mile walk on a trail with a stirring coastal view surrounded by grey rock cliffs. It is open for tours Saturday to Monday from 12:30 pm to 3:30 pm.

Looking down from the top of Lookout Point northward, the panoramic view on a fog-free day is breathtaking. Stretching for 11 miles are the brown sands and green-capped cliffs of South Beach and North Beach. Looking seaward, the vast ocean waters are a soulful deep blue and its waves thunderous.

The Point Reyes Headlands jut 10 miles out to sea making it a threat to each ship entering or leaving San Francisco Bay. Before the construction of the Point Reyes Lighthouse in 1870, over three-quarters of a million dollars in ships and cargoes were lost on the rocks. To date, the Point has taken more than fifty ships and the lives of numerous sailors and passengers. Rising 600-feet above the tumultuous surf of the Pacific Ocean, Point Reyes' jagged cliffs were the ideal location for a lighthouse, despite being the second foggiest place on the North American continent. Like Point Bonita, due to the characteristically high fog, an area 300-feet below the top of the cliff was blasted with dynamite to clear a level spot for its construction.

The lens and mechanism for the lighthouse were constructed in France in 1867. The clockwork mechanism, glass prisms and housing for the lighthouse were shipped on a steamer around Cape Horn of South America to San Francisco. The parts from France and the parts for the cast iron tower were transferred to a second ship, which then sailed to a landing on Drakes Bay. The parts were loaded onto ox-drawn carts and hauled three miles over the headlands to near the 600-foot high tip of Point Reyes where they were lowered to the leveled area. It took six months for the lighthouse and fog signal building to be completed. The Point Reyes Light first shone on December 1, 1870.

On April 18, 1906 the famous earthquake of San Francisco occurred, during which the Point Reyes Peninsula and the lighthouse moved 18 feet in less than one minute to the north. The lighthouse did not suffer any significant damage and was off-line only thirteen minutes. A testimony to the dedication and commitment of its hearty lighthouse keepers.

Point Reyes is the windiest place on the Pacific Coast. The highest wind speed recorded at Point Reyes was 133 mph, and 60 mph winds are common. At the end of each shift, the keeper trudged back up the long wooden staircase 300-feet to the keeper's quarters. Sometimes the winds were so strong that he had to crawl on his hands and knees to keep from being knocked down. The hard work, wind, fog, and isolation at Point Reyes made this an undesirable post. The lighthouse keeper at Point Reyes once wrote: "Better to dwell in the midst of alarms than reign in this horrible place."

The lighthouse was retired from service in 1975. It is now owned by the National Park Service and part of the Point Reyes National Seashore. It is open to the public on Friday through Monday. Tuesday to Thursday it can only be viewed from an observation deck. To reach the lighthouse, you will need to drive to the lighthouse parking lot, walk a scenic short 0.4 mile trail to the Visitor Center and then descend 308 stairs--map of Point Reyes National Seashore.

Visiting and photographing lighthouses has been a passion of mine. They conjure up a now extinct era when man dared to peer into the unknown with the hope of making peace with the natural order of the sea equipped with nothing more than his wits and raw fortitude. Sometimes he succeeded and sometimes he did not. The lighthouse remains a symbol of that era. Visiting the lighthouses close to San Francisco was fascinating and enriching. I will follow up this article with the lighthouses at Pigeon Point and Point Montara.

Friday, October 28, 2016

It Is The Season For Tall Tales Of The Unexplainable--Two Old Hotels And Two Famous Ladies

It's that time of year again, the month of October. The moment in the calendar when the warmth from the light of day begins to sell out and the cool from the dark of night begins to cash in. Yet, the chill you feel brushing over your skin as the sun disappears into the blackening shadows of the fading day may be more than a change in the temperature. It's the perfect environment for telling tall tales dealing in the unexplainable and old hotels with storied pasts provide the best material. Let's check into two North American hotels where the promise of a sleepless night is a selling point.

Just an oyster toss form Charleston and located in Asheville, NC, the Grove Park Inn opened on July 12, 1913. In the decades to follow, it has become one of the South's most famous and highly venerated resorts with a long tradition of exceptional service and hospitality. Presidents William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard M. Nixon, George H. W. Bush, William J. Clinton and Barack H. Obama along with notable personages, such as Harry Houdini and Thomas Edison to name a couple, have crossed its threshold along with many other visitors who came to bask in the spectacular views and revel in its lush amenities. One of those visitors, a young woman, who arrived one evening many years ago, has never left. She has become known as The Pink Lady by the Inn's staff.

It was the early 1920's--the decade of jazz music, speakeasies, flappers, and a dance craze called "The Charleston". The retreating sun's orange and red rays were filtering through the ghostly haze of the Blue Ridge Mountains and settling on the tree tops of Asheville just below the granite clad Grove Park Inn.

A young woman entered the Inn's Great Hall, secured a room at the lobby desk, and checked into room 545 where she put on a pink ball gown and waited for her love interest to arrive. Shortly thereafter, a message was delivered. The elegantly dressed lady left the room, positioned herself at the fifth floor balcony overlooking the Palm Court atrium, and flung herself over the rails ending her life. As the story tells, this was not an ordinary rendezvous. Her lover was a married man who decided to call an end to their affair that fateful night.

That account is just one version of the story. According to the Asheville Paranormal Society, the young woman, named Katie, was pushed from the upper floor of the Inn onto the stones of the Palm Court atrium. It seems she was a servant in a wealthy aristocratic household and her lover was the master of the house who had a reputation to protect. Katie had become an inconvenience. She was pregnant.

Picture courtesy of Ghost Hunters of Asheville
Whatever the case may be, since that tragic night the young woman has been seen by staff and guests in the form of a pink mist, or sometimes as a full-fledged apparition appearing in a pink ball gown throughout the Grove Park Inn, but with a particular attachment to room 545.

The apparition of the Pink Lady is also said to enjoy playing small pranks. She's been blamed for lights, air conditioners, and other electrical devices turning on and off by themselves. She seems to enjoy rearranging objects in the rooms. It's also been said that she will occasionally wake up a sleeping guest with a good tickling on the feet.

The Grove Park Inn has dedicated a drink to their ghost resident rightfully called The Pink Lady. A spectral mix of vodka, acai and pomegranate juices, and pistachio simple syrup.

For our next tale from the dark side, we head across continent to Vancouver, Canada. The first Hotel Vancouver was a five-story, brick structure that looked and functioned much like a farmhouse. The second, started in 1912 and completed in 1916, was built in a grand Italianate revival style, and was considered one of the great hotels of the British Empire. It was turned into a government administration building during World War II and torn down in 1949. The present Hotel Vancouver, at a cost of $12 million, took 11 years to build and opened in May of 1939, in time for the Royal visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. The towering Fairmont Hotel Vancouver is also known as "The Castle in the City".

Back in the 1940s, the very elegant Jennie Pearl Cox was a regular at the Fairmont Hotel's ballroom. Then, one calamitous evening in 1944, she was killed in a car crash just outside of the hotel. She was wearing her favorite red dress. From that moment, she took up residence in the hotel and became known as The Lady in Red. She has been seen passing through elevator doors on the 1st and 14th floors.

The Hotel was originally built with eight elevator shafts to accommodate the large number of guests. However, budget problems forced builders to install only six elevators, leaving two shafts empty. Porters, employees, and guests have all claimed to catch this mysterious woman after rounding the corner on the mezzanine level, just as she opens the door to get on or off the elevator. But here's the catch: the shaft is empty--there is no elevator or even a door.

It would seem one of these empty shafts is reportedly home to The Lady in Red, but her floor of choice is the 14th. She has also been seen in rooms and the Hotel's bellmen have claimed to witness her entering rooms just as they are checking in hotel guests. Her presence has been embraced by the Hotel and she is considered by many to be the nicest ghost in the city.

Notch 8
The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver's highly celebrated restaurant located in its lobby, Notch 8, honors The Lady in Red with a drink of its own called the Lavender Corpse Reviver 15. It is concocted with a eerily superb blend of Hendricks Gin, Fresh Lemon, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc, and Lavender Mist. Lavender enhances the natural botanicals in the gin.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Importance Of Being Earnest--It All Unravels Right Here In The Lowcountry

The Importance of Being Ernest is a play written by Oscar Wilde in 1895. A trivial comedy written for serious people, its zany story line is a handbag packed with social escapists, secret personas, closet engagements, and lover’s entanglements with a mythical suitor. The whole whacky affair is now unfolding at the James F. Dean Theatre in Summerville with a bit of a twist--it all unravels right here in the Lowcountry--Charleston and Summerville to be specific.

The play opens in Charleston with Algernon Moncrieff (Erik Brower) receiving his best friend (Jacob Sunding) whom he knows as Ernest with last name Worthing. Ernest has come from Summerville to propose to Algernon's cousin, Gwendolen Fairfax (Minna Schubert), daughter of the formidable Lady Bracknell (Susie Hallatt). Algernon, however, refuses his consent to the engagement until Ernest explains why his cigarette case bears the inscription referring to him as Uncle Jack.

Ernest is forced to admit to living a double life. In Summerville, he portrays a respectable lifestyle for the benefit of his young ward, Cecily Cardew (Megan Fife-Malasky), and goes by the name of John also nicknamed Jack, at the same time pretending to be concerned about a brother living in Charleston named Ernest who indulges in wicked ways. On his visits to Charleston, John assumes the identity of the made-up philandering Ernest. Algernon confesses a similar deception. He pretends to have an invalid friend named Bunbury in the country, whom he can visit whenever he wishes to avoid unwelcome social obligations.

John refuses to tell Algernon the location of his country estate, but after proposing to Gwendolen as Ernest and unsuccessfully acquiring consent from Lady Bracknell after revealing he was adopted by an old man who discovered him as a baby in a handbag at a train station, Algernon overhears him giving his country address to Gwendolen. Next, Algernon makes a surprise visit to John's Summerville estate pretending to be his brother, Ernest Worthing and meets Cecily. Long fascinated by Uncle Jack's until now never before seen black sheep brother, she can't help but to fall in love with Algernon, who is pretending to be Ernest. Pretty wild stuff so far, but the best is yet to come.

Gwendolen soon arrives to see her fiancé, so named Ernest, meets Cecily, and bordering on a potential catfight, the genteel blue gloves come off as the two of them spar over their one and only Ernest. Exquisitely portrayed by Megan and Minna, the encounter generates one of the more exceptional and endearing acting moments of the play.

As usual, Chrissy Eliason and Company crafted a brilliant, and I emphasize brilliant, set for Earnest. The predominantly white theme of the proscenium evoked a sense of purity and respectability, but as with Earnest, the obvious is the ambiguous. From the perspective of the audience, the props and costumes stood out like a hologram against the stage's white backdrop and subtle pastel lighting.

Director Joseph Demerly did an excellent job at casting the character of the actor with the character of the script. Without a doubt, if I were to look at a photograph of the cast in full dress, I would have been able to match the body to the name. Likewise, the chosen actors did an excellent job bringing their character to life.

Susie Hallatt as Lady Bracknell is snobbish, domineering, and as presumptuous as her brown patterned dress, Minna Schubert as Gwendolen graced the stage with an air of southern sophistication and pretentiousness, and Megan Fife-Malasky as Cecily was naive and unspoiled as a pink rose. Jacob Sunding as John a.k.a. Ernest was spot on with his character's gentleman-like southern swag with an accent to match and Erik Brower was as witty and confrontational as his character Algernon, who is given to making pronouncements that either make no sense at all or touch on something profound.

Robert Venne (Butler Merriman) and Jason Pallay (Butler Lane) serve up some goodies and Deb Abbey as the rigid Miss Prism carries some of her own baggage and has romantic feelings for Reverend Canon Chausable played by David Hallatt.

The Importance of Being Earnest is Oscar Wilde’s social version of Bud Abbott's and Lou Costello's "Who's on first, what's on second, and I don't know is on third." You need to pay close attention to the dialogue throughout or you may miss a key piece of revelation that will later leave you scratching your head and trying to catch up. It is profoundly interesting, entertainingly trivial, and seriously humorous.

Now showing September 23rd to October 2nd.

Purchase your ticket for The Importance of Being Earnest.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Boone Hall Plantation And The Taste Of Charleston 2016--The Old, The New, And A Ghost Story Too

Lining both sides of the earthen driveway, the procession of evenly spaced ancient oaks stretched for a distance of three quarters of a mile. Their broad branches extended skyward like outstretched welcoming arms intertwining into a embracing green canopy high above where light beams from the sun cut through the open areas of the tree's thick leaf clusters. A charming and unforgettable southern reception for visitors entering the resplendent Boone Hall Plantation. NBC Daytime television called it "a must see stop on any trip to Charleston, S.C."

There is no official documentation pointing to when the famous trees were planted. Boone Hall's web page states the son of Major John Boone planted the live oak trees in 1743. Other research seems to indicate that the Horlbeck’s planted the avenue a hundred years later in 1843. There is only one sure way to settle the controversy. It would involve cutting down one of the trees to count its rings, but such an action would constitute desecrating a symbol of long standing southern heritage and spoiling an idyllic narrative.

Boone Hall’s beginnings go way back in American antiquity. Theophilus Patey was granted 470 acres on Wampacheeoone Creek (Boone Hall Creek) in 1681, who at some point in time gave 400 acres of the land to his daughter, Elizabeth Patey, and John Boone as a wedding gift. It is not known when John Boone built a house on the property, but at his death, he left third of his estate to his wife and the rest to his children, Thomas, Theophilus, Susanna, Sarah, and Mary.

Thomas, at some point in time before 1749, took over Boone Hall. He is credited with planting the two evenly spaced rows of live oaks in 1743 according to the narrative of Boone Hall. If true, the Avenue of Oaks is at least 273 years old. In 1749, at his death, he willed the plantation to his son, John Boone. He left the plantation to his nephew, whose name was also John, and in turn, in 1792, John the nephew left it to his wife Sarah Gibbes Boone and his children, Thomas, Susan, and Maria.

The working plantation left the Boone family when Sarah Gibbes Boone sold it to Thomas A. Vardell for $12,000 in 1811. By then, it had expanded to 1,452 acres and included buildings on the property. It changed hands a couple more times before Henry and John Horlbeck took possession of the plantation, which now included a brickyard. The other component of the controversy, the Horlbeck family is credited with planting the Avenue of Oaks in 1843, according to the opposing research. The brickyard was producing 4,000,000 bricks per year and at some point during their ownership, pecan trees were planted on the property. By the late 1800s Boone Hall was one of the leading producers of pecans in the United States.

In 1935, Thomas Archibald Stone and his wife, Alexandra, purchased Boone Hall Plantation from John S. Horlbeck consisting of 4,039.5 acres. The Stone's demolished the 1790 wooden house. It was a two-story frame house with a one-story front porch. In its place, they built the much grander Colonial Revival-style house that stands there today and presently owned by the McRae family. Along with the house there are nine of the original slave cabins which date back to 1790-1810, a smokehouse dating from 1750, and a Cotton Gin house dating around 1853.

Boone Hall is one of America's oldest working, living plantations producing strawberries, tomatoes, and pumpkins, as well as many other fruits and vegetables. It also is host to some of Charleston's most popular festivals held throughout the year: Lowcountry Oyster Festival, Lowcountry Strawberry Festival, Scottish Games and Highland Gathering, and of course, the Taste of Charleston, which this year takes place on Sunday, Sept.25, 2016.

The Taste of Charleston is a 3-day event showcasing taste-tempting delights served by 40 of the Lowcountry’s favorite casual and fine dining restaurants. Highlights of the Main Event include a specialty and imported beer tasting tent, live music, the legendary "Waiters’ Race" and the "Kid's Kitchen Sideshow." Food and drink tickets are sold separately.

There is a famous story associated with the long history of Boone Hall. It is called "The Thirteenth Step." Its telling raises the specter of another controversy. This one having to do with the house. Not the present house because the story takes place in the 1700's and the present house was built in 1935. The only other house mentioned in known historical records of the plantation is the house that was demolished to make way for the present house. This is where the controversy arises. This house was only a two-story house with a one-story front porch. Looking at the photo taken of the house, it only has a short flight of stairs leading onto the porch. In the story, there is a reference to a thirteenth step, the premise on which the story is based. The thirteenth step of what?

Boone Hall.PNG
Photo by Leonard Hayes 1899
Ammie Jenkins is the main character of this story that takes place in the 1700's. It is not stated whether Ammie was born on the plantation. It only states she grew up on the plantation. During those years, she formed a friendship with an Indian boy named Concha, and the two of them spent time together doing the things friends do. She grew to be a beautiful young lady. On her 18th birthday, Concha surprised her with a stunning revelation. He told her he loved her and wanted to be with her. Ammie did not share the same feelings and brushed him off. Concha was broken hearted.

Due to her beauty, she caught the eye of other suitors and in short time, fell in love with one them. In time, the admirer proposed to her and she accepted. Concha heard of the proposal and disappeared. On the night before her wedding, she was standing in her upstairs bedroom before an open window when an arrow struck her in the chest from the outside.

Despite being fatally wounded and with every bit of strength she could muster, she managed to make her way downstairs to the front door where her fiancĂ© was waiting for her. She collapsed into his arms and died, right there on the porch's 13th step. There was no doubt in people’s minds as to who was responsible for firing the arrow that ended young Ammie’s life and the reason. Concha was never seen or found.

As the story became legend, it related how the blood stain left on the 13th step could not be removed, no matter how much scrubbing was attempted to remove it. As time passed, the blood stain on the 13th step was eventually removed, but people since have claimed to have seen it clear as the day it was made, only to disappear upon looking a second time. A ghostly figure, likely Ammie, is said to have been seen sitting on the step staring down to where the blood stain was left, only to fade into nothing whenever someone got to close.

Even though known records don't state it, by this story, one would have to conclude another house existed on Boone Hall before the two-story house was built. A house constructed with at least thirteen steps leading onto the porch and the front entrance. Either John Boone or his son, Thomas, would have been the likely builders and no doubt styled in the grand tradition of plantation homes of its time.

Sadly, that original house has faded away with the passing of time, but the unforgettable Avenue of Oaks remains along with other historical features, which makes Boone Hall a must-see. And, what would a respectable southern plantation be without a good ghost story? It would be like Charleston without carriage rides.