Breakfasting like Washington
at the home of a Founding Father
When hubby and I decided to spend our wedding anniversary in charming Charleston, we had no idea this trip would be quite so special.
An easy 5-hour drive from Atlanta, the South Carolina city of Charleston is steeped in history. Its cobblestone streets, with horse-drawn carriages and rainbow-colored townhouse rows, date back to British colonial times. Costumed tour guides tell tales of revolutionary heroes outside graveyards, galleries and museums. Sailing ships that might once have carried cotton, tobacco, rice and indigo graciously glide past World War II battleships in Charleston Harbor.
But the highlight for us was our absolutely fabulous stay at the John Rutledge House - the only home of a signer of the United States Constitution that’s a national historic landmark as well as an inn.
Located on Charleston’s prestigious Broad Street and dating back to 1763, the Rutledge House Inn is the former home of John Rutledge, one of America’s Founding Fathers. As Governor of South Carolina and briefly Supreme Court Chief Justice, Rutledge worked on early drafts of the Constitution in the ballroom of this very house, and was one of the fifty-five men who made history by ultimately signing the final document. During his presidential tour, George Washington visited Rutledge in 1791, and even stayed for breakfast. In the 1920s President William Taft also popped in for a party hosted by Charleston’s then mayor, and (legend has it) the famous Southern dish of she-crab soup was invented right here especially for him. The house was later beautifully restored and transformed into elegant and luxurious guest accommodation that’s literally still fit for a president or two.
From the moment we arrived, we received the very warmest welcome, as well as Southern hospitality in abundance. The inn’s concierge Margo (one of the nicest, friendliest people ever) made us feel at home right away as she showed us into Room 5, The Washington Suite; a magnificent master bedroom featuring an imposing four-poster canopied bed, a luxurious bathroom and even a separate parlor, where Margo proudly informed us, George Washington himself ate breakfast.
How’s that for some serious WOW-factor!
Our room(s) were tastefully decorated with Georgian antiques, period furniture and original, ornate plaster moldings. We had two Italian marble fireplaces (in the bedroom and the parlor), gorgeously draped floor-to-ceiling windows ... and even two flat-screen tellys, which I suspect were probably not original 18th century heirlooms!
Our beautiful bathroom included a deep jacuzzi bathtub with a separate walk-in shower, a pair of crisp white cotton bathrobes, and Gilchrist & Soames toiletries all the way from England
(a cute, perhaps subconscious, reminder of America’s colonial past).
Oh, and that lovely, huge four-poster was so authentically high that I really did need the thoughtfully-provided wooden steps in order to climb into bed.
Each morning we enjoyed a fully-cooked breakfast with all the trimmings served to us as we sat in the same room as America’s first president. Tucking into our tea and toast, hubby and I couldn’t help but wonder what Washington talked about over his bacon and eggs in this exact spot 230 years ago.
At 4pm, afternoon tea was served upstairs in the Signer’s Ballroom where Rutledge wrote parts of the Constitution, and where later we were also invited to help ourselves to evening drinks of sherry, port and brandy to sip on the balcony or in the quaint courtyard outside. All very delightful indeed.
Staying at the Rutledge Inn felt like stepping back in time to the most important era in American history. Climbing into that beautiful bed on our last evening, I closed my eyes and tried to picture the events that took place within those walls more than two hundred years ago. Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined I’d ever lay my head and spend the night under the same roof as a Founding Father and influential framer of the Constitution, yet alone (not one but two) US presidents. All this combined with 21st century luxury, Southern hospitality and outstanding service -
now that’s something really special.