Monday, April 18, 2016

A Side Trip to Charleston

Ever since I got back from visiting and touring the city of Charleston and the Joseph Manigault home on one of the little tour buses that ramble around the city of Charleston, I have been dreaming of fluffy hoop dresses, southern cooking and seafood, and longing to be a Southern belle.  (The photo above is not the Manigault home but one of the many beautiful and charming homes in Charleston.)

I was born in Maryland which is a little southern.  Maryland is not quite all southern and not northern either.  But off I went to California in the 60’s and I stayed there over 30 years.  But fate brought me back to the East Coast for awhile.

Road Trip

Recently a cousin asked me if I wanted to visit another cousin of ours in Myrtle Beach and “we have to see Charleston.”   I went with her on a 5-day road trip not expecting much.  I had been to Myrtle Beach before which I did like very much, but I never saw Charleston, a 2-hour drive away from Myrtle Beach.

What did I discover:  my roots and all things Southern. Charleston made me think that maybe after all I was a Southern Belle—after 55 years?   Life is funny like that.  

Towns Around Charleston with Retirement Communities

Myrtle Beach is an enclave of food and entertainment and fun and beaches, but Charleston is an elegant and stylish dream.   It reminded me of what I discovered when I first went to San Francisco—a touristy town but exciting with real substance underneath the surface glitter.  You have to choose because there is so much there.  

If you want a 55+ retirement community, the 55+ communities in Summerville would be nearest to Charleston 

Surrounding areas like Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head do have plenty to choose from too.  You need to spend some time in these areas.  I found the Surfside Beach and Murrells Inlet areas to have some of the nicest residential sections in Myrtle Beach, but they are a 2-hour drive away from Charleston.  Summerville is about a 30-minute drive to Charleston.  Perfect  if you wanted to go for dinner there. 

A Foodie Town

And who wouldn’t?  I am convinced persons who decide to spend their retirement near Charleston love food.  There are so many restaurants and the food is so gorgeous that you might want to eat out every day.  There are 90+ restaurants in Charleston alone listed in the Visitors Guide. 

Bus Tour of Historic Homes

There are so many homes on this tour.  I didn't get all the photos I wanted because the bus goes at a clip.  Maybe the horse drawn carriage would allow more time to get the photos you want.  Here are a few I managed.

We were told the reason the balconies curve out was so the hooped skirts would fit on them when the ladies came out.

I thought the gardens and spring greenery were as beautiful as the homes although most of them were hidden behind walls and gates.  There are garden tours. 

So many beautiful homes. This photo shows the false doors and the Federalist style.

A Feeling of Southern Hospitality

So go to Charleston for the historic homes, gardens, horse carriage rides, and the restaurants.  Have fun.  Maybe you’ll be like me caught up in this romantic way of life.  You will sense the southern hospitality and I am taking that feeling back to Maryland with me.

Touring the Joseph Manigault Home

Here are photos of the Joseph Manigault house (the home I fell in love with.)  Is it possible to fall in love with a house.  Absolutely.  Go see it and you’ll understand.  It transports you back to another time and you too may not be able to get the image of swirling skirts out of your bedazzled mind.

The Center Entry Hall Staircase
The Joseph Manigault home is on tour for $12.00 - I didn’t blink an eye because when the tour ended I would gladly pay that much to see it again. 

I had come to this house on the Historic Homes Tour bus.  This historic home was the last thing on the tour and by far the best part.  To actually enter a home like this was thrilling for many reasons but taking a step back in time was what it was all about for me. 

Upstairs Living Area 

Note:  To get the original paint colors 12 layers were removed.  The paint colors are gorgeous and authentic.

In the upstairs living area there was a soft breeze coming in the window (this day was a beautiful day in the low 70’s).  I'm thinking the Spring is the best time to visit because the weather was a pleasant 72.  

A strong breeze drifted through the upper window as I entered the room.   Suddenly I could see the swirl of hooped skirts in beautiful colors worn by the women and hear the sound of their skirts rustling as they walked and tinkling tea cups as they sipped their tea.  It was a wonderful moment.  I was feeling the same breeze that they might have and seeing and feeling the walls and floors they did. 

Ahhh I want to go back.  I would never own this home but I wanted to soak in more of the past and get away from our present.  A slower time, a more gracious time — time come back to the present reality—a walk through the romance of the past.  There was much beauty and joy in this 19th century home as reflected in its interior.

We felt the Federalist-styled exterior was cold and even foreboding but the interior was a stark contrast because it was warm, sweet and lively.

The Dining Room

The dining room was downstairs.  I loved this pastel mint green color on the walls.  

Here are my photos but there is much more than you see in a photo.  A photo gives you a visual glimpse but doesn’t give you the full impact of the feeling you have when you are there.  Photos don’t smell, feel or play music.  There aren’t surprises and they don’t stimulate your senses fully.

This 19th century breakfront is one of the only pieces that was originally in the house. 

Other furniture shown was donated.

In the dining room there was a portrait of the master of the house.  The clock on the mantle is also in the painting.  There were fireplaces in just about every room.

Oh, and I found myself getting design ideas.  I recognized the architectural details in today’s southern new home communities.  

See our Myrtle Beach 55+ homes and 55+ South Carolina pages to understand more about the details of homes that reflect the Charleston homes of the past.

Paint Colors

Perhaps the mistress of the house chose the colors.  Notice the warm wood of the floors and doors contrasted with the cool mint wall color.  

The first thing I notice in this photo besides the beautiful portrait of the owner is the paint color.  It has such a contemporary look.  The tour guide said that the colors are authentic.  They went down 12 layers to get to the original one and that this was the first color on the walls.  This color is a truly happy and lighthearted one.

The Music Room

Look at this very vibrant wall color in the music room. 

The children were required to play an instrument.  Notice the original wood floors are worn from the many children that inhabited the household.

The Day Ends

This was a thoroughly enjoyable trip.  I want to go back.  I bought some fudge and pralines, had some tea and lunch.  We left before evening set. 

Horse Drawn Carriages Were Plentiful
 The scene was set as we were leaving with abundant horse-drawn carriages clopping along as the sun began to set.  There is a trolley that is free.  The town is well organized for tourists.  Be sure to see the retirement communities in the area, (Summerville, Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach, and Murrells Inlet to name a few areas), and we hope you enjoy Charleston.


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