Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Houses of Beaufort, South Carolina

We had been to Beaufort a few days earlier when Nancy and Joe visited, but it poured rain and we didn't really have a chance to explore. We did notice a lot of beautiful houses, so when Joanne visited the following week, we decided to head back.

It's the second oldest city in South Carolina, behind Charleston, and is known for its antebellum (pre-war) architecture and scenic location.

It was definitely a nicer day than our previous visit, but it was a little chilly. We decided to do a clip-clop trolley tour...

Here is Andrea, our tour guide, with Newman, a beautiful Belgian draft horse. Newman is still young and has only been doing tours for one year, so he sometimes gets spooked when he sees anything bigger than he is. Andrea had her hands full on one occasion when we met up with a tour bus, but managed him really well. Newman was previously an Amish work horse where his working life would have been 10 hours a day, six days a week. We were told that the Amish people are amazing horse trainers. This is quite a cushy job for Newman now.

The Tabernacle Baptist Church dates back to 1861.

This was the first of many homes similar to this one. This is now the Rhett House Inn, but 200 years ago it was considered an "in-town plantation house." During the Civil War it served as a hospital recovery building. Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone with the Wind, actually named her character after the prominent Rhett family of Beaufort and the Butlers of Atlanta.

Painting the veranda ceilings blue is a popular Southern tradition. There are many theories for this from protecting occupants from evil, to fooling spiders and bugs to thinking it's the sky. But most times it's because your grandmother painted hers blue, as did her grandmother before her, and the tradition has carried on.

This house was constructed around 1845.  During the Civil War the house was occupied by Union troops and afterward it became a hotel or boarding house known as the Saxton House. Today it is privately owned. It looks like they didn't get the memo on the blue ceilings!

This is the Visitor's Center, which was formerly the Beaufort Arsenal, home of the Volunteer Artillery. Strangely, although we clopped by it a couple of times, Andrea didn't even mention it.

Verandas are definitely the thing to have on your house, whether they are big or small...

This section of Craven Street has become one of the most charming parts of old Beaufort. The Craven Street houses were built in the 1880s and 1890s. Several are almost identical and all have decorations made by wood working machinery newly invented in the late 19th century.

And this was interesting...

This is the oldest house in Beaufort with a construction date of 1717. Although that is the date cited, many believe it was probably built around 1760. That's still old! The slits in the foundation are said to be rifle slots for defense, although there is no documentation to support that. It does make a nice story though.

A sleepy little scene...

This house was built in the early 1800s and then was eventually bought by a slave of the owner. It was abandoned for much of the late 1800s before being renovated to its present state. Love the ivy steps!

A neat tree...

Not sure about this house, but it was stunning (and had blue ceilings on the verandas).

I loved this little house...

They aren't all huge houses, but look at those verandas...

Andrea called this the Elvis garage...eyes, nose and sideburns. Now I don't see anything else, when I look at it!

The magnolia trees were just coming into bloom. They bloomed about three weeks ago in Savannah, which was really early.

The houses and gardens are just picture perfect...

A beautiful street...

The First African Baptist Church Prayer House originated in 1863. The present church was built in 1865 by freed slaves and given to other freed slaves.

Built in 1813, an inscription on the basement wall reads: “In this house the first meeting of Secession was held in South Carolina.”

This was the garden in someone's front yard...

Founded in 1712 as the Parish Church of St. Helena, construction began in 1724. During the Civil War, Federal troops dismantled the church and used it as a hospital, uprooting slabs from the graveyard for use as operating tables.

This spectacular house is referred to as The Castle. It was built in 1861 for a doctor and also was Hospital #6 during the Civil War. The house remained in the family until 1981. The house occupies a full city block and the grounds are stunning with hundreds of azaleas and camellias. Many of the trees were planted by the original owner including a pair of olive trees brought from the Mount of Olives in the Holy Land. Look at that magnificent tree in the front yard.

I love the tree with its twisty branches and the ivy covered wall.

The branches on this tree were touching the ground. The greenery running along the branches is called Resurrection Fern. If there has been little rain, it goes brown and it barely noticeable, but with rain it springs back to life in vivid green.

This house was built in 1852 for another doctor and also served as a hospital in the Civil War. I could hear a dog barking madly, but the one on the steps didn't seem too upset. Oh, look at the front gate. That doggie hiding behind it wasn't too happy. Dang tourists!

Dr. John Johnson had this three-story house built in the 1850s. It was used during the war as a part of Union Hospital #3. In 1973, a chimney collapsed in the house destroying a portion of its rear wall. Unable to repair the damage or to find a purchaser, its owner was forced to apply for a demolition permit in May 1974. After the permit was granted, the Historic Beaufort Foundation stepped in and purchased the property. It was resold to new owners who restored it.

With our heads full of amazing houses, we headed out to find a place for lunch. We came across this bluegrass band.

They were pretty good. Loved the girl playing the washboard...

We had asked about a place for lunch that served low country food and they recommended Blackstone's Cafe. The staff was great and the food was too. Mmmm...biscuits!

There is a lighthouse near Beaufort so we decided to visit it before we headed back to Savannah.

This wasn't like any road to a lighthouse that we had seen before. We felt like we were in the rain forest!

The Hunting Island lighthouse is 132 feet tall, or 167 steps, not quite as many as the Tybee lighthouse.

Joanne and I paid another $2 for the privilege of a good workout.

This is actually a view of the steps looking up. Weird!

A little burn in the legs and we were only on the third floor. I don't think I would want to be in the lighthouse during an earthquake!

Me at the top! Jim gallantly gave me his jacket. What was I thinking going to Beaufort with only a small sweater and sandals? I know...I was thinking it was going to be nice, not 10 degrees!

Can you see the little red circle just off the center at the end of the path?

It's Jim waving to get our attention. The only reason I spotted him was because of his yellow sweater and he spotted Joanne's red jacket. It pays to be colourful!

Low tide and there were actually several people in the water. You go, people! It was way too cold for me.

An interesting fact...

People really worked hard back then...

Much like the lightkeeper's house on Tybee Island, this place was pretty nice.

And with that full day, it was time to head back to Savannah.

It was too late to cook supper (or so we told ourselves), and we strolled back to the Crystal Beer Parlor just up the street from our house. We are going to miss that place!

It was a full moon and the end to a great day.

We're on the countdown now...we'll soon be packing up to head home.


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Wayne Stinnett said...

Our daughter and her husband live on Craven St. The mermaid in your picture is pointing at their house. Sadly, the mermaid is gone now.