• Beaufort Lifestyle Magazine

Story By: Marsha Stewart | Photography By: Susan DeLoach

 

Well-known local artist, Aki Kato, has lived in Beaufort since 2003.  But the journey to get here has been a long one.  Born in Yokohama, Japan in 1957, Aki attended public elementary and junior high schools.  He started drawing and painting at a very young age, and by age 7 he already understood art concepts such as perspective and the color wheel.

In 1973, Aki entered military high school and graduated in 1976.  Immediately following graduation, he moved alone, with no family, no friends, and no sponsor, to Washington DC to study art and English.  While there, he studied English for 10 months at the Catholic University of America.

 

Aki then moved to Gainesville, Florida and spent the next two years at a nearby community college studying math and science before transferring to the University of Florida.  At the University of Florida, Aki studied art, intending to major in oil painting.  He did not finish the program, concerned that art was “too unpredictable” to make a living at.

He relocated to Atlanta and struggled to be noticed.  As a young artist who had not graduated from art school, it was difficult to have his portfolio taken seriously.  Aki took on different jobs to make ends meet.  He worked as a waiter, a manager, and a cook.  He then returned to Japan and also worked different jobs there.  But he was determined to finish an art program and moved back to the United States.  This time he landed in Orlando and attended the University of Central Florida where he completed his bachelor of fine arts degree.

After graduation, Aki worked at Universal Studios as a scenic painter.  Before long, he moved to Atlanta and had his works displayed at several art galleries including Eclectica, Chicken Lips, and the Defoe Center. He was then hired by Habersham Plantation in Toccoa, Georgia.  At the time, Habersham Plantation was the industry’s leading high end, hand painted furniture manufacturer.  For the next year and a half, Aki worked at Habersham Plantation before being recruited as head artist by newly formed company, Camden Field, located in Hendersonville, North Carolina.

Camden Field moved to Beaufort in 2002 as a retail custom made hand painted furniture store.  The showroom and workshop was located on Robert Smalls Parkway right at Broad River Bridge.  In 2004, Aki became an equal partner with owner Lynn Bonge and the pair relocated the showroom to Boundary Street in Beaufort.  Camden Field is no longer in business.

When he arrived in Beaufort, Aki immediately felt at home.  He explains, “When I was in high school in Japan, I saw a movie about Gullah children on Daufuskie Island.  I was mesmerized by the smiling faces of children and vast and beautiful scenery of the Lowcountry.  Back then I had no idea where ‘Lowcountry’ was.  The movie was Conrack and was an adaption of the Pat Conroy novel The Water is Wide.  After I came to Beaufort, I found out that the movie was filmed not far from here and that Pat Conroy lives in the same town.”

In 2006, after Aki and his partner closed Camden Field.  He taught ‘Art of Furniture Painting’ at the Technical College of the Lowcountry to supplement his income.  In his first class, Aki met a lady who showed him a small planter and asked if he could help her paint it.  She said it was for her brother’s birthday.  There was an open area in the center of the planter and he suggested that she should write his name and message there.  She wrote ‘Happy Birthday Pat.’  Aki asked her what his full name was and it was, in fact, Pat Conroy.  Since then, the two have become best friends and, through her, he was able to meet Pat and his siblings Mike, Tim and Jim.  Conroy’s siblings, along with Conroy’s wife Cassandra King, are Aki’s biggest supporters and they own many pieces of his artwork.

Conroy’s writings have become quite an inspiration to Aki.  He loves painting Lowcountry scenes: the marsh, tidal rivers, live oak trees – all stemming from his earlier love of the novel The Water is Wide.  “I like to paint birds, trees, sea creatures, water scenes and working boats,” Aki says of his love of the Lowcountry.  He has recently worked with the Pat Conroy Literary Center where he donated a large scale mural.

The Lowcountry Habitat for Humanity is an organization that Aki is actively involved with.  “I feel very strongly about their mission and love the idea of ‘re-store.’  They salvage old but good quality furniture and building materials to recycle and repurpose.  I have worked in the American furniture industry for 20 years and realized that all the furniture industries in this country are being taken over by foreign countries, especially China.  I am very much against buying inexpensive, low quality furniture which is made overseas and has to keep being replaced.”

roduces himself as a “blue collar artist.”  He explains, “What I mean by that is, instead of painting things which I like on canvas or paper and sell them in a regular gallery, I enjoy meeting new people and interacting with my clients.  I paint any subject on any surface or size, including walls, paper, canvas, salvaged wood, tiles, windows, etc and in any location.  It is not as easy as people think.  I have worked in different places and learned different styles and techniques.  For example, I worked at Universal Studios in Orlando in the early 1990’s as a scenic artist.  Scenic artists paint backgrounds of the amusement rides and paint steel structures and fiberglass to make them look like something else.  It was here that I learned large scale painting as well as faux finish.  Right now, my job as an artist is to understand what my client wants and then help them to visualize and refine their idea, then execute.  Therefore the finished product is a collaboration of my client and myself.”

Aki believes that good art is a kind of art which evokes viewers’ emotions and makes them think, whether it is statements for political propaganda or social issues or even something much more simple.  He says, “For example, I painted a mural, a picture of a big bald eagle about to catch a squirrel on a large tree.  The squirrel is so scared and cannot move and is just gazing at the eagle’s talons.  It is a very intense scene.  When my client first saw the mural he asked me a question which made me very happy.  He asked, ‘Aki, what is going to happen next?  Did the squirrel escape or was he eaten?’  That is the kind of reaction I love to get from my clients.  I think it is something very similar to a good book.  We cannot wait to turn to the next page.  Except in my case, the homeowner can decide the outcome.”

Aki Kato is still pursuing his goal to become a better artist.  His journey may have begun an ocean away, but it has guided him to Beaufort.  He is happy that this has become his home and he is always striving to be a better citizen of Beaufort.

You can visit his website at www.akikato.com or look him up on Facebook at www.facebook.com/akikatostudio.

Story By: Mary Ellen Thompson | Photography By: John Wollwerth

 

One of Beaufort Lifestyle’s photographers, John Wollwerth, has written an inspiring book entitled The Missional Life: What I Learned from Engaging in Missions in East Africa, which is a compilation of his experiences, his wisdom, and his photography.

 

It all started with a photo blog in which he tells stories about photo shoots, shares photographic techniques, and mixes it together, often humorously, with life experiences and personal beliefs.

 

Ever inspired to write, John says, “I’ve always written. I wrote a couple of full length sci-fi novels when I was in high school although I never did anything with them; I’ve just always known how to write.”

 

In an opening paragraph of the book John declares, “I am the son of a missionary.” John’s mother was a missionary to Nigeria in the 1960’s and three of his brothers preceded him into missionary work in Senegal, Swaziland, and China. “You would think that I had some calling to missions, but until 2009 that had not happened. My church was involved in projects in Romania, but that had never interested me. This was the way it was supposed to be. Just because a ministry is available doesn’t mean God has called you there. Sometimes He has something else in mind, and you have to wait for that opportunity to be placed before you.”

 

In 2010 he was getting ready to go to South Sudan, which at that time was the second most dangerous country in the world for aid workers, on his first mission trip. His main purpose on that trip was documentation through photography. He explains, “When I started writing, it wasn’t so that I could eventually put a book together. Rather it was so that I could keep my thoughts in the right place as I got ready to go to some dangerous places and situations where the outcome was unknown. For me, putting things down into the written word helps me to clarify ideas and thoughts that would otherwise be scattered and unintelligible, and aids in my focus.” Subsequently these writings became his mission blog, and the basis for the book.

 

What John wanted was, “To open people’s horizons and let them know what the rest of the world looks like. People just don’t have any concept what’s really going on in the world. The blog, and this book, are written to inspire people to join us in this work. You don’t understand how culturally motivated your way of thinking is, until you leave your own culture.”

 

Photographs illustrate heart-stopping wondrous landscapes, arresting poverty, and images where, despite the odds, joy, hope, and innate beauty seem to prevail, all captured and locked forever into time and place. Of one series of photographs, John explains,  “When people think of Africa, they usually think of herds of animals on the grasslands with the occasional Acacia tree breaking up the horizon. Sure, there’s that aspect of Africa, but there is so much more to it than that. There are jungles, scrublands, deserts, big cities, mountains, even glaciers.”

 

His prose exemplifies the despair that sits alongside hope, conditions that look appalling to most of us, but still we see the beautiful smiles of those people. He tells stories, shares facets of his faith, brings Africa home to us, and does it in such a way that you feel you are part of an important conversation. The religious overtones are down to earth and deeply personal, laced with quotes and observations from not only the Bible, but also such unlikely sources as Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the Screwtape Letters, and the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, illustrating his points in common parlance.

 

One memorable experience excerpted from the book: “Just a short note as I sweat here in my hammock in South Sudan. I’m in a partially open, tin shack that serves as the church. As I lay here in complete darkness, but hearing music in the background, I’m reminded again of an observation made on my first visit and only confirmed since then. The South Sudanese hate silence. They listen to music all night. When they’re in a car they crank the stereo up until it distorts. You can be standing in a group of people having a conversation, and one of them will start blasting a song from their cell phone. It’s as if they think as long as there’s music or noise, things are ok. That bad things only happen during the night, when things are silent and dark, and terrible things come out of the darkness and silence. When it’s dark and silent, that’s when the attacks come, when children and cattle are stolen. It’s when the snakes crawl into your bed for warmth. It’s as if as long as there’s noise, things are all right. It’s like children who are afraid of monsters, only here the monsters are real. There’s been a lot of talk here about insecurity, about the attacks that come from cattle raiders, and the fact that they’re not far away. Seventy people were killed here just last week in cattle raids, and people go to bed afraid. And so I think of that as I lay here in my hammock, wishing for silence.”

    by Cindy Reid

 

Breakwater Restaurant, now in thirteenth year, has earned the right to be called a Beaufort institution. Their sophisticated menu, lively bar scene and downtown location have come to represent the best of the casual upscale dining and libation environment. But Breakwater doesn’t ride on their reputation, in fact they are committed to shaking things up every few months with seasonal menus,  make-you-happy Happy Hours and week night food specials that reflect their fun and fresh hospitality. Summer offers the opportunity for a seasonal reset and Executive Chefs Gary Lang and Beth Shaw have designed the perfect menu for you to enjoy summer’s local bounty.

 

Let’s start with the food. It. Is. Always. Superb. Doesn’t matter what you order. Could be the filet mignon or could be Southern fried shrimp. It simply never disappoints. Breakwater has been using a contemporary approach to traditional Lowcountry dishes for years and they are always updating the menu to include seasonal seafood and other local fare. It is what good food is supposed to be and exemplifies the best of “New Southern” cuisine.

The Sorghum BBQ Pork Belly, a new item on the menu, illustrates this perfectly. At Breakwater the pork belly is compressed again after cooking, removing fat, making it a more flavorful and updated take on the traditional dish. Served with bacon macaroni & cheese and sorghum barbeque sauce, it is a rare treat.

Another popular item is the Ricotta Gnudi, served with wild mushrooms, smoked gouda, and spinach. “It is important that we always have a vegetarian entrée available for our customers” says General Manager Donna Lang,” and this one is both healthy and delicious.”

A perennial diners favorite is the Scottish Salmon, served with caramelized fennel , spinach and grape tomatoes , artichokes ,marinated chick peas ,charred lemon and basil vin blanc. It is a refreshing and healthy choice, beautiful to look at and even better to eat.
Summer Specials

Don’t want to eat heavy meals in the summer? Pop in and enjoy one of the many small plate options on the menu or one of the small plate specials served twice a week. Tuesdays are officially dubbed Taco Tuesday, with each week bringing a new version of the fan favorite. One week it might be Kung Pao Chicken with julienned sugar snaps peas and smoked cashews and the next Tuesday it could be Fried Shrimp with corn salsa, green curry creme fraiche and  spinach. What a great deal at 2 for $8.00 ! A new addition is Slide into Thursday, which features the ever popular sliders, in this case the  Nashville Fried Chicken sliders. They were such a hit at the Breakwater Kentucky Derby party that they have put on the menu for the summer. That makes all us a winner!

 

Blended Burger Project

Donna Lang, “We are doing the  James Beard Foundation Blended Burger challenge for the third year in a row. It is a nationwide competition and our Chef de cuisine Megan Horne is entering her creation the Lowcountry Black and Blue. It starts with a fifty/ fifty blend of chopped wild mushrooms and wagyu beef that’s seasoned with her own Lowcountry blackening spice.”

Seared to perfection, it is finished in the oven, topped with blue cheese, port onions, lemon aioli, local melon salsa and arugula all served on a brioche bun. Wow! Starting May 30 and running until July 31st, Breakwater will be serving up Megan’s signature blended burger.

The Blended Burger project “asks participants to join a movement that strives to make burgers better by blending ground meat with chopped mushrooms, creating an incredibly delicious patty that’s healthier and more sustainable for the planet.” The James Beard foundation will award the top five chefs with the most online votes with a trip to the historic James Beard House in New York City where they will showcase their burger at an exclusive event in 2018.

So swing by, try the Lowcountry Black and Blue and then go online and vote for Beaufort’s own Megan Horne!

Happy Hour

And what about that Happy Hour? Monday through Friday from 5- 7 PM you can enjoy $4 well drinks and $4 glasses of wine, with a red, white and rose available. In addition there are seven draft beers on hand, including local craft beers. Donna Lang says, and patrons agree, “It is the best deal in town. Come on in and have a drink and enjoy a summer special, all for well under twenty dollars.”

The restaurant’s ambiance compliments the cuisine and libations. The dining room and bar are among the most comfortably cool rooms in Beaufort. Cool in the sense of after a scorching summer day, it is a welcome relief to enter and immediately feel better, and cool in the sense of its modern design and sensibility. Breakwater pulls off the very rare feat of being sophisticated but not stuffy. It is just chill y’all!

 

Breakwater  843-379-0052, 203 Carteret Street, Beaufort, SC

www.breakwatersc.com

Open at 5 PM, Monday through Saturday (Closed Sunday)  

 

Story By: Mary Ellen Thompson | Photography By : John Wollworth

The small sewing group of ladies met in the back of a fabric and smocking shop on Craven and Charles Streets called Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard to learn to quilt. Four of the group, Marjorie Smith, Blanche Gault, Barbara Walters, and Peg Allen pioneered the group into creating an official quilters guild in 1987. There were fourteen or fifteen of participants and they held their first meeting at the Pigeon Point Senior Citizens Center where they named themselves Sea Island Quilters, adopted by-laws from the Cobblestone Quilters in Charleston, and just celebrated their thirtieth anniversary this May.

 

An original member of the group which has now more than tripled in size, Mary Campbell enjoys being their spokesperson. When the Sea Island Quilters started the group, they chose a theme for a block of the month and everyone made a block; they drew a name and that person won all the blocks. According to Mary, “There were no experienced quilters when we started, so we all just learned from each other. We had people come and teach us and do workshops. We have quite an outreach program where we make quilts to give away; we’ve given hundreds of quilts away! Every year we have an annual challenge where we have a theme for a quilt – this year it was Santa Elena and our quilts were hung in the history center. We’ve had interesting themes like fortune cookies, water, songs, the millennium, and the tricentennial. We meet once a month at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday but we’re nomads at the moment, because the church we were using is undergoing renovations. (If you’re interested call Karen Guinn 843-525-6036 to find out the location.)  Anyone is welcome and the dues are $25 a year.”

 

The Campbell home is filled with beautiful textiles that Mary had sewn, quilted, appliquéd, and embroidered herself as well as others that have been given to her as gifts. On the living room wall is a quilt that was made for Mary and her husband, Buddy, as a wedding gift. On the backs of the sofas and chairs, quilts are neatly folded and ready for those chilly nights. Mary’s upstairs workshop has squares and pieces of fabrics, some neatly sorted into piles and others, because of the sheer amount of them, are stuffed into a shelving unit. She still has her first sewing basket. The guest room has a not only a basket of quilts but also a big pile atop a wooden luggage rack in addition to the quilt hanging behind the bed, one on the bed, one thrown over a chair and smaller pieces hanging on the walls.

 

Mary Campbell loves textiles and especially quilts. She has one quilt in particular, which she calls her “blankey”, that she made long ago of flannel and corduroy that travels with her wherever she goes. She says it has seen better days but she takes it when she travels enjoys it’s comfort and warmth while riding in the car or on the bed of a hotel.

 

Her passion began way back when. “I’ve always sewn. My grandmother taught me basic embroidery stitches when I was very young. When I was in third grade I was sick and out of school for weeks at a time. My mother sat me in front of her sewing machine and taught me how to sew. I was given a toy sewing machine and made doll clothes.”

 

Originally from Georgia, Mary came to Beaufort in 1979; when she first arrived here she went to work for Beaufort Memorial Hospital in administration and became Director of Public Relations. From there, she went to work for Environments, Inc. which was a local school supply company for early childhood education. She stayed with them for thirty years and happily remembers, “I met a lot pf people and had the opportunity to travel. Environments, Inc. gave me the chance to use my communication and creativity skills. I was on the catalog production and marketing teams as a copywriter. I also helped with product development and materials sourcing for our sewing center. Working on various types of projects with very talented people was both fun and rewarding.”

 

“In 1979 some friends gave me one of their family quilts. I had never seen the pattern before so I went to the library to research it and became interested in quilts and their history. Then, in 1983 the South Carolina Quilt Project was documenting quilts at the McKissick Museum in Columbia, SC. Quilts were photographed and the family history was recorded for the database. I volunteered and one of the quilts for which I did the intake made it into one of the books produced as a result.”

 

Mary recalls, “I’d never made a quilt and I wanted to make one. There was a Navy wife here who was teaching the Eleanor Burns “Quilt in a Day” class in her home, so I took the class.” With dry humor, Mary continues “Of course they didn’t mention that there are 24 hours in a day.”

 

With so many from which to choose, it would be difficult to find a favorite but Mary produces one of which she is especially fond. The center, a tree of life design, is one panel of fabric and the piecing is done all around the edges. “I’ve made many tree quilts, but they were all pieced.”

 

A purist at heart, Mary prefers the old, original, traditional patterns. As one would expect, she saves clothing and scraps of fabric that can be repurposed; 100% cotton, or natural fibers are her preference. Mary confides she has had some corduroy skirts hanging in her closet for awhile that she envisions using for a quilt one of these days, recalling the old adage, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”

 

A quilt hangs over the top of the stairwell that Mary points to that has not only a complicated piecing pattern, but also a very complex quilting pattern, and she quilted that one herself. Some, she sends out to be quilted, but nevertheless, she laughs and produces a small fabric tag on which is printed, “This took forever.” There should be one attached to every piece she has sewn.

 

The most current project Mary completed is a series of twelve wool appliqué rectangles with birds for each month of the year. Mary explains that this is for Buddy, who is a birder. They have taken the course on Spring Island to be SC Master Naturalists, Buddy is the editor of their newsletter and Mary writes the member profiles. She is also interning to be a Master Gardener.

 

Quilts, it turns out, are not just something to keep you warm on a chilly night. They represent the maker’s like, the maker’s skills, and all that the maker might do in the future. They are microcosms which, fortunately, Mary Campbell is happy to share with us.

 

 

Story By: Carol Lauvray | Photography By: Paul Nurnberg

 

The saga of Santa Elena is a centuries-old story still unfolding today—a story largely unknown to the public before the Santa Elena History Center opened its doors in 2016. Operated by the Santa Elena Foundation, the History Center’s exhibits showcase 16th century exploration and settlements, focusing on the Spanish town of Santa Elena located on Parris Island, South Carolina from 1566 – 1587. “The Foundation’s vision is to expand the knowledge of Santa Elena and other 16th century European settlements in the area of the Port Royal Sound and make a sustained, positive contribution to the local economy,” says Dr. Andrew J. Beall, Chairman of the Santa Elena Foundation. “We’re achieving that vision through ongoing archaeological research of the Santa Elena site and the History Center’s exhibits and programs, designed to educate visitors about Santa Elena and its historical significance.”

 

Europeans discovered the Beaufort area and Port Royal Sound more than 450 years ago—before St. Augustine, Jamestown and Plymouth. In May 1562, the French explorer Jean Ribaut landed on what is now Parris Island and built a fort called Charlesfort. Without adequate food, the French were forced to abandon Charlesfort less than a year later. During the mid-16th century, Spain was competing with France for control of North America and colonizing points along the Southeastern coast from the Caribbean to the Carolinas. In 1566, Spanish naval officer Pedro Menendez de Aviles founded Santa Elena, the first colonial capital in Spanish La Florida, on the same site as Charlesfort.

 

Uncovering History

 

Archaeologists began unearthing Santa Elena’s secrets at the site on Parris Island in 1979. Chester DePratter, Ph.D., of the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology (also an Advisory Board Member of the Santa Elena Foundation), has conducted extensive excavations at the site over the years. This work led to his discovery of the location of Charlesfort, established on Parris Island in 1562, before the founding of Santa Elena there in 1566 by the Spanish.

 

Since archaeologists began their work at Santa Elena, they have uncovered hundreds of French and Spanish artifacts and discovered an intact well and a pottery kiln buried at the site. Just last summer, the location of one of Santa Elena’s Spanish forts was identified—Fort San Marcos I, built on Santa Elena in 1577. Including France’s Charlesfort, a total of six forts were built on the site during the 16th century. Five of the forts were Spanish and are described in documents and a map preserved in the Archive of the Indies in Seville, Spain. For nearly 20 years, the archaeological search for Fort San Marcos I was unsuccessful, so Dr. DePratter enlisted the aid of his friend and colleague, Dr. Victor Thompson of the University of Georgia, to try a new approach. In 2016, the two archaeologists were finally able to determine the location of Fort San Marcos I, using ground-penetrating radar and other electronic devices to look beneath the ground’s surface.

 

Telling Santa Elena’s Story

 

After that discovery, a new exhibit “Building Fort San Marcos,” featuring a 3-dimensional model of the fort, was unveiled at the Santa Elena History Center this spring. Using a drawing of Fort San Marcos I and a first-hand narrative describing the fort (both from the Archive of the Indies), Dr. DePratter created a set of detailed scale drawings of the fort. Model maker Ruben Alex Coplo used those drawings to construct the 3-dimensional model, which is the centerpiece of the newest exhibit at the History Center. Andy Beall adds, “When additional funding is available, we’ll be able to take the new 3-D scale model of Fort San Marcos to the next level by developing a virtual reality experience for visitors, so they can ‘walk through’ the reconstructed 440-year-old fort on Santa Elena. The video will allow visitors to tour the fort virtually while listening to the actual words of the Spanish inspector Alvaro Flores, who documented the two-story fort’s rooms and contents, including 80 beds for soldiers and 10 cannons, in his 1578 written report.” Dr. Beall emphasizes that Santa Elena is an emerging story and as ongoing archaeological research reveals more information, the History Center’s exhibits and programs will continually evolve and be enhanced.

 

Megan Meyer, Executive Director of the Santa Elena Foundation and a Beaufort native, says Phase II of the History Center’s main exhibit “Santa Elena: America’s Untold Story” is currently in the planning stage. The second phase of the main exhibit will add the story of Captain Juan Pardo, who led 250 soldiers inland to the Appalachian Mountains; provide more information about the archaeological discoveries of the well, kiln and Fort San Marcos I; and add replicas of weaponry, clothing and other items to the exhibit to help bring the story of Santa Elena to life.

 

“In addition to Phase II of the main exhibit, as funding becomes available other projects will include: creating living history interpretations with period costumes and props; building an archaeological laboratory and research facility at the Santa Elena History Center; and establishing a children’s interactive area at the Center,” says Ms. Meyer. Another project on the Foundation’s wish list is to search for the French ship Le Prince, known to have wrecked in 1577 in Port Royal Sound. “Maritime Historian and Nautical Archaeologist Jim Spirek will lead that research when funding is available,” she says.

 

Collaboration and Partnership—Keys to Realizing the Vision

 

Andy Beall emphasizes the importance of collaboration and partnerships in realizing the Santa Elena Foundation’s mission and vision. The Foundation works with noted archaeologists and scholars, as well as with community, local government, and business leaders, and many of them serve on its board of directors or as advisory board members. Count Alvaro Armada Barcaiztegui of Spain, a direct descendent of Pedro Menendez de Aviles, also serves on the Foundation’s board.

 

“We’re also indebted to the dozens of volunteers in our community who donate thousands of hours of their time annually to greet visitors and keep the History Center open,” says Dr. Beall.

 

In addition, the Santa Elena Foundation partners with other local educational, cultural and history organizations. Examples include: the Heritage Library of Hilton Head Island’s new branch for ancestry research, located in the Santa Elena History Center; Beaufort History Museum’s and the Verdier House’s partnership with the History Center on a three-museum pass for visitors; a new station at the History Center sponsored by Kinghorn Insurance that helps visitors of all ages learn about Santa Elena through video games developed by USCB students; and the Beaufort Art Association’s creation of beautiful murals depicting the founding of Santa Elena in the Center’s first-floor hallway.

 

And Ms. Meyer says another partnership is in the works with the Carolina Marsh Tacky Association to hold a family-oriented Lowcountry Fair in November this year. The event will feature races with Marsh Tacky horses (the horses Spaniards brought here) and will celebrate Santa Elena with living history re-enactors, performances, music and food.

 

The Santa Elena History Center opened at 1501 Bay Street just over a year ago, but has already made great strides telling America’s Untold Story—the exciting story of Santa Elena—to thousands of visitors. Plan to visit soon to learn the most recent findings about how European settlement in America began right here in Beaufort!

 

For hours and information, visit: WWW.SANTA-ELENA.ORG


 

Story  by : Cindy Reid | Photos By: Susan DeLoach

“I strive to be a public servant, not a politician” says Shannon Erickson, who represents District 124 in the South Carolina House of Representatives.  Often seen as the “go – to” person for legislative issues, she has been championing Beaufort and its residents in the South Carolina House of Representatives since 2007. Her devotion to community shines through her actions, which reflect her “family first” philosophy. Although often working at the statehouse in Columbia (the legislative session runs from January to June), Shannon found time to sit down with Beaufort Lifestyle and talk about her deep love of the lowcountry and her commitment to its people.

Beaufort Bound

Growing up in  South Carolina, Shannon was  raised in Florence, SC. She says “My Dad was in the Army in Korea, and my parents were hard working people.” Shannon says she was quiet and conservative kid in high school, “I seemed to get along with most everyone. I was a nerd but had lots of friends, some  were more reserved like me, but I also had friends who played sports, were in the band or in various clubs. I was very active in the Episcopal Youth group but never in any student government or leadership roles. “

She says, “My husband Kendall and I married very young, and his job with the Department of Revenue sent us to Beaufort. We arrived here with a one month old baby, our daughter, Mariah. Kendall is from Charleston and we would go up there and see his family every weekend. After a while Kendall’s mother said ‘you need to build your life where you are’ and was the best advice she ever gave us. “

“Back in Beaufort, we immersed ourselves in our church, as at the time Kendall worked for the Internal Revenue Service.  I  somewhat joke, “so who would love you besides your church!” she laughs. Continuing, she says “ Beaufort really became our home when Kendall’s government job meant we would have to follow his position elsewhere. I was teaching preschool at the time and he had been with the IRS about six years. We decided that we had put roots down here and loved this community and decided we would stay in Beaufort -that‘s how Beaufort became home.”

Child Care Advocate

Shannon’s career in early childhood education led directly to her involvement in public service. She recounts, “In 1997, I was asked if I was interested in buying Hobbit Hill preschool. At that time there were few  good quality curriculum and professional hour child care available for working parents, and I thought I could make a difference.” Over time Hobbit Hill grew into three locations, Shell Point, Ladys Island and Mossy Oaks. It currently employees 46 men and women and serves approximately 300 children.

“Regulation of child care is extensive, as it should be to protect the children but,”’ she says,” what I ran across were folks who came to do inspections who had no real world experience. There was an issue regarding the amount of toilets per child, with the regulation  “reinterpretation” to include children in diapers, who do not use toilets. This meant, on paper and per this new application of the regulation, that there were not enough toilets and therefore less children could be served in the child care center.  Less children being served meant less parents could go to work. And it was completely nonsensical because babies in diapers don’t use toilets! So, I looked for a solution and ended up joining the  SC Early Education & Care Association in order to address this issue. I was in Columbia every Tuesday and bugging Governor Stanford’s office often. He asked SCDSS to work with us and expanded the definition within the regulation to make the age of toilet using children 24 months old. This helped about 500 child care centers across our state. We had come up with a way to work within the system. I always say the ‘potty problem took me into politics!’ It showed me what government can do unto people and in this case, the end result was punitive, to children, families and to business.”

While pursing the needed regulatory changes in Columbia, Shannon was also active in the Beaufort community. “I was on the Chamber of Commerce Board, and involved in United Way, and I was becoming more and more vigilant as to how government was dipping into our local Beaufort matters. In 2007, there was an open SC House of Representatives seat and I was saying that ‘someone needs to run for that seat” and then someone said to me- ‘maybe that someone ought to be you’!”

Shannon remains dedicated to children’s issues. “Right now, South Carolina law doesn’t cover child care that is four hours or less. There are no regulations in place. I am currently working on this at the state level, working with non- profits, faith based programs, summer camps, trying to hammer it out. We are getting there.”

Many issues impact local families, and Shannon says, “I am Chair of the SC Joint Citizen and Legislative Commission on Children  and we passed a bill on child seat safety. Also, recently we passed a bill allowing foster children to get their driving learner’s permits before the age of 18. In addition, we are involved in using federal resources to fight hunger, by using resources that are readily available. We have championed these things because they are important and make a difference in people’s lives.”

Coastal Champion

As fitting for a representative of Beaufort, Shannon is passionate about our waterways. “One of my hobbies is marine science. The world begins and ends in our salt marshes.” She continues, “I am so happy  that we got the summer regulations for submerged basket farmed oysters changed this term. We were losing business and  mariculture is potentially a huge job driver for Beaufort. Additionally, these are  great products to sell because they are good for people and good for the eco system. Oysters are very effective at filtering and cleaning our water.” Shannon adds,”  The balance of business and ecology is one of the key things we have to consider. Yes, it takes more work and may take some compromise but it is so worth the outcome. There can be good in compromise. I am pretty pragmatic, and I recognize that the life we have doesn’t stand still. We can get up every day and make the world better. We can say ‘someone ought to’ or we can grow in our roles.”

Families First

Shannon says, “There is not just one issue for me, although I am known for my expertise and interest in early childhood education. This term, I took up a bill about small group and individual private insurance coverage of autism.  We never mandated this coverage before and because of that children who had insurance in these two categories were forced to go on Medicaid. This issue came to me from constituent, a Grandmother, whose grandchild is not able to receive the services he needs. The result is of this contentious bill would be that children of small group and individual policies would be able to have insurance that cover autism spectrum disorder therapies.  Currently, the bill is in the SC Senate with Senator John Scott holding it up.  Insurance companies are citing high costs but my research shows me that our SC State Insurance, which added this coverage ten years ago, has seen costs per enrolled member per year rise only about $5 per year.  I understand business and costs but I also understand the value of investing in these children in the beginning of their lives in an effort to assist them toward self-reliance and independence later. We will keep trying to see this bill become law.”

Her leadership on the issue of domestic violence has directly impacted significant change .  “Two years ago I chaired the House Domestic Violence Reform Task Force” she says,” Before our work, domestic violence was treated like a DUI, the severity of the charges was based on the number of occurrences (convictions) of the crime. Now,  the charges brought are much more appropriate and based in what actually occurred. Is a weapon used? Did it happen in front of a child? Is the victim’s ability to get help compromised? Key factors like these now push the charged crime from the lowest level to much more serious consequences. “

“We also overhauled the counseling system that perpetrators of these crimes attend from statewide oversight to now being monitored by each solicitor. A lot of my interest, information and support came from local agencies such as CODA and Hope Haven, Solicitor Duffy Stone’s office and CAPA. Our success was based in teamwork which I was proud to be part of. I believe strongly in team work.”

Diverse  Issues

Shannon is involved with many different issues and serves on multiple committees to insure her constituents’ voices are heard. Below is a list of her committee responsibilities and legislative commitments.

  • Chair, Republican Women’s Leadership Caucus, 2009-2011 and 2016 to present
  • Member, Abstinence Education Task Force
  • Member, Affordable Housing Task Force, present
  • Member, Criminal Domestic Violence Study Committee
  • Chair, General Assembly Women’s Caucus, South Carolina State Legislature, 2011-2013
  • Member, House Education Funding Task Force
  • Member, House Republican Caucus, present
  • Member, Rural Counties Caucus, present
  • Member, South Carolina General Assembly’s Arts Council, present
  • Member, Sportsman’s Caucus, present
  • Member, Speaker’s Tax Reform Study Committee, present
  • Member, SC House Prescription Drug Reform Task Force, present

Community Connection

Well known for her active online presence, Shannon says, “Social media gets a different group of people involved in the governmental part of the world. And I try to share social pieces too. Just this month, I was humbled to be honored by the Junior Service League of Beaufort for my informational social media postings during Hurricane Matthew”.

When asked what is her favorite place in Beaufort  Shannon is quick to answer definitively,  “Anywhere  on the water. And the waterfront park or Hunting Island, I can sit there and just be. So time on the water with family and friends- and not having a schedule!”

Golden Rule

Shannon says, “I really pride myself on looking at an issue carefully. I am a conservative person. I realized long ago that there is a lot more to gain by being steadfast and relying on values and ethics. The golden rule can solve a lot of problems. I’ve been told I am over simplistic but I truly believe that.” She takes a moment and reflects  ,“Politics invites conflict and sometimes things can slide away from what is really the goal. Who is there to stop the slide?  For me it is putting children at the center of the issue. My business, my family and at the statehouse- what we do affects families and children profoundly.  After living in Beaufort for thirty years, I am proud of how many families and children my life has touched.”

Shannon Erickson

House of Representatives- 2007 to present, representing District 124

Serves on the House Regulations and Administrative Procedures Committee

Serves on the House Ways and Means Committee

BA in Early Childhood Education, USCB

President of Lowcountry Building Blocks

Husband Kendall Erickson, CPA

Children Joshua Erickson and Mariah Owen, grandson Wilson Owen

   Story By: Cindy Reid

Photography By: Paul Nurnberg

Internationally known artist Jennifer J L  Jones creates gorgeous abstract paintings that intertwine nature and emotion in a wholly unique vision.  She says, “I have always been nature inspired. I create contemporary work representative of emotion. Everyone is drawn to the work for different reasons. Often people feel what I have painted, even in this abstract form. It is a silent language but universal and based in nature. For some people this enables them to connect to abstract art for the first time.” 

After living in Atlanta for many years Jennifer knew she wanted to leave the city, but was having difficulty finding just the right place. “I wanted to be by the water, not too far south but also not too far north”, says Jennifer, “I craved finding a place that really felt like home. My parents live on a sailboat and when I described what I was looking for , they said it made them think of a sweet little place they would pass through while sailing. “ She was visiting Hilton Head Island and decided to drive to Beaufort and check it out. She says, “ Port Royal was exactly what I had been looking for and everything fell quickly into place. It was all very serendipitous .”

Jennifer is finding the palette of the lowcountry to be an inspiration for her most recent work. She says, “Being here has brought new shapes and light to my eye, which is a reflection of my new surroundings.” A new painting titled Meithrin is evocative of  “the reeds and the tides coming in and out at the Sands beach,” Jennifer says, “and the name is Welsh , which is part of my roots and heritage, for ‘nurture’ because this new sense of place and home gives me nurturing & comfort every day.” ( Meithrin is a 72″ x 72″ mixed media painting on wood, available at Alan Avery Art Company, Atlanta GA) 

Evolution

Jennifer says her paintings “used to be more ethereal color fields, now they have more gestured brushstrokes, patterns and range of motion.”  Because of all of her enriching experiences that include domestic and international travels, her art “grows and the progression involves many shifts and changes in my work. My work is becoming more and more bold, yet also still offering a dimension that viewers find soothing at the same time.” She eschews canvas, and paints instead on paper and large handmade cradled panels of  Baltic birch wood. She says, “I enjoy the surface of wood more, and I can see the pattern of the grain . Sometimes a painting will spring from the natural grain, a pattern or shape I find interesting.” 

Regarding her paintings deep colors and glazed surface Jennifer says, “I had very traditional training and was encouraged to find my unique style, so I have done a lot of experimentation over the years. I use layers upon layers and different glazing techniques. When that’s all finished I put on a final varnish, sometimes to bring out the color and also as a protectant.” The final result is a profound experience of light, color and an emotionality not always seen in abstract art. The appealing richness of the color combined with the engaging composition make the viewer want to linger, to truly experience the painting.

Serenata

In addition to having her art in prestigious galleries here and abroad, Jennifer has published  Serenata,  a lush coffee table book that showcases her series of mixed media paintings created over one year, all inspired while living in Italy for a month. Essays and contributions from a selection of   collectors, gallerists, contemporaries, writers, and art critics enhance the gorgeous art. As Jennifer writes in her introduction, “ The Serenata series is a synthesis that represents the profound path of self-discovery and growth I experience every day and view as a continuing revelation and manifestation of my muse. My intent is that the positive energy conveyed through these paintings will be felt and promulgated by all those who see and experience them.” ( http://www.blurb.com/b/2699459)

Always an Artist

Originally from rural Virginia and then Florida’s “Space Coast”, Jennifer’s constant and unwavering goal was to be an artist. In Florida she started advanced art classes and she says, “ I was very determined by ninth grade, and I wanted to make sure I went to the best art college.”  Her hard work and innate talent created that opportunity and she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the prestigious School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois. 

Further hard work and talent led her to be represented by select high end galleries and for her paintings to be in demand by private collectors and corporate clients. Her paintings can be found in numerous world wide collections and at  the Oprah Winfrey/Harpo Studio, the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Scana Energy, the Burj Dubai, and the United States Embassy in Lisbon, Portugal. She has also completed large scaled commissioned works such as the lobby of the McLean Hilton in Washington, DC and the Northside Hospital Lobby in Atlanta, GA and most recently the Mayo Clinic and the Baptist Hospital Lobby in Jacksonville, Florida. Jennifer is currently working on two commissioned paintings for the office lobby of the President of  the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta GA. 

Due to her success Jennifer is working on another book because as she says, “I have been a working artist for eighteen years and because of that artists ask me for help and advice, so this book is all the different things that have happened to me. All the lessons I have learned in my journey, from life, art and love that helped open the doors for me. They may have been hard but I have enjoyed learning from each lesson. This is a way I can  contribute and help encourage, support and give back.”

Port Royal Life

Like many who chose the lowcountry ( or feel chosen by it ) as their home, Jennifer is enchanted not only by the visual beauty, but by the friendliness found here. She says, “ It is so peaceful here- I am not looking over my shoulder all the time! I’ve met and made wonderful friends here.  I feel like everyone looks out for each other. I feel connected, grounded, and very much at home. It feels like anything is possible.” Her home and studio are only a few blocks apart and she loves being able to “walk  to work” everyday. Jennifer says , “This place , this beautiful place, nourishes me on all levels, in a huge way.”

For further information visit her website www.JenniferJLJones.com

Story By: Mary Ellen Thompson

Photography By: John Wollwerth

Joy Craig. Former Marine, writer, dragon boat coach, gardener, foodie, Leadership Beaufort team, cat rescuer, advocate, activist, advisor. Her list of accomplishments and attributes is growing by the minute. Currently, Joy’s writing is her strongest focus. In addition to working on her memoir, Men Behaving Badly, early in April she attended the “On Point: Women Warriors Writing Workshop” in Tampa, FL led by women veterans to encourage other women veterans to contribute their stories to a larger voice. In mid- April, Joy submitted an op-ed piece to the New York Times, and at the end of the month she travelled to New York because she was chosen as a fellow for “The War Horse” writing seminar at Columbia University. The topic of her writing is an honest, unflinching look at her personal, laudatory, experience in the armed service.

     When Joy joined the Marine Corps at age nineteen, it seemed like the safest and sanest thing she could do. Until she was eight, she grew up with her mother and two sisters in Southern California. “My mother,” she says, “was more interested in partying with the Hell’s Angels than she was in raising her girls.” Since her sisters were older, they had each other and more resources. Joy remembers being dragged to parties and when she asked to go home, her mother would tell her to find somewhere to sleep. “An abusive husband,” Joy thinks, “became more important. When I was eight, my mother drove me hundreds of miles and dropped me off at my father’s one bedroom house.” Joy had no recollection of the man, and he didn’t know she was coming. From the first night forward, “He abused me until my friend’s mother figured it out and I was put in foster care when I was sixteen,” eight years later. During the next two years, Joy was in and out of five foster homes. When she graduated from high school, she was dropped from the program.

     “I had an apartment with a friend, got a minimum wage job and quickly fell behind in the rent. Having no place else to go, I went back to my dad, who was the reason I was in foster care to begin with, but he failed a drug test and went to rehab. I was homeless. I slept on couches and back seats. Then a friend took me to meet an Air Force recruiter, but he was condescending. As I was leaving the building, I literally smacked into the Marine Corps recruiter and signed a six year contract. I had no idea of what I was getting into; I was only thinking of being safe.

     “Some tried to talk me out of it, but they didn’t know my situation. Because of that, boot camp wasn’t as hard for me as it should have been. When I look back, I believe my childhood was good training for the Marine Corps.”

     Joy’s career in the Marines was both illustrious and difficult. She served in Aviation Ordnance. She explains, “For every one person in the infantry, there are nine others in support of the infantry. My specialty supplied and maintained the weapons – any explosives, bombs, missiles, rockets, rounds, for the F/A-18’s. Any munitions used we saw from cradle to grave, from the moment it came out of the box until the pilot expended it.”

     Progressing through the ranks and becoming an officer, Joy believes, “Some of the best work I did was as a drill instructor and after that when I could mentor. My greatest accomplishments were the success stories of people I mentored who went on to do great things. I keep in touch with many of them.”

     In Joy’s bedroom there is a wall with some of her memorabilia from her 23 years in the Marines. She regards her service with much pride but her success came at great personal cost, which is the subject of her memoir and her other writings. “Some men in the Marines have had an unspoken, organizational culture of vitriol against women for decades.

     I rocked the boat one too many times, but now they are going to have a hard time shutting me up. If you’re a female in the military, and you are harassed and assaulted, it’s a ‘you’ problem, it’s often a “you” problem. By the nature of the organization, Marines are focused on war fighting; it’s all about the mission. Some are holding onto the ‘good old boys club’ and part of that is trying to keep women from succeeding. These brave women signed a contract to defend the Constitution with their lives, earned the title ‘United States Marine,’ but are unworthy of respect from male counterparts to their immediate left and right. Once you graduate from boot camp, the males think you are there as their sex toy.” In her memoir, Joy discusses the details of her treatment by fellow Marines. She reveals, “Just before my retirement I had to go to a meeting with an NCIS agent concerning a sexual assault. I told my story but didn’t press charges.” That wasn’t the only occasion on which she had been assaulted.

     The Marines United scandal has Joy’s fingers flying across the keyboard writing letters, making statements and giving interviews. In an op-ed piece submitted to the New York Times, Joy explains “Marines United, a private Facebook page for current and former Marines, was linked to thousands of nude photos of female Marines, many submitted without their knowledge. For many women who’ve served, this wasn’t news at all. In truth, the real surprise is that the public wasn’t alerted sooner. Marine Corps leadership had knowledge about the site since 2013 and failed to correct it.” Joy is making it her mission to educate and effect change for these very sorts of behaviors.

     Although Joy’s career in the Marine Corps was not without personal difficulties, it did bring her to Beaufort. Having been stationed at Parris Island, Joy fell under the spell the Lowcountry inevitably casts and after she retired, and lived for a short period of time in Bluffton, she decided to make her home here. “I first came to Beaufort as a Marine recruit on Parris Island in 1991. I was so eager to leave that I barely looked around. Ten years later I volunteered to become a drill instructor and despite working an average of 100 hours a week, I fell in love with the lowcountry. When I was in the Corps’ 17 years I became an officer and was able to pick my final duty station before retirement. I chose Beaufort so that I could have a ‘do-over’ and really get to see the place and put down roots. I’ve traveled the world and been able to see some unbelievably gorgeous places, but the lowcountry landscape still takes my breath away.”

     While Joy is working hard to paddle against the tide to create change, she also paddles for another cause: Dragon Boat Beaufort. For five years Joy has coached the dragon boat team and served on the board of directors. Her sister lives with cancer, and her mother passed away from cancer, so it is a cause she solidly supports. “In the five years I’ve been on the team, we’ve raised and donated thousands of dollars to people in Beaufort County. Anything I can do to help, I will try.” Joy first got involved in dragon boat paddling when she was stationed in Japan. “One of my ‘success stories’ worked for me in Okinawa, and she was on the Navy dragon boat team, she invited me to join them and for the first year I paddled, then I began coaching; it was a very successful team.”

     In another way for her to connect with the community, Joy is involved with Leadership Beaufort, having completed the requisite classes this April. She also loves and rescues cats to the point of one rescue where she was bitten so badly that she required 32 rabies shots and surgery on her finger. On another front she confesses, “I was an agriculture geek in high school – I love to garden and would like to see community gardens in this area”. Joy describes herself as a “foodie” and to that end she explains, “Yes ma’am, (I’m a) big epicurean! I’ve actually shepherded my daughters into the fine dining trade so I can live vicariously. I’m a home chef and do grow a little of my own produce (herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers…). I’m a vegetarian (for ethical/environmental reasons) and seek clean, healthy foods that the increasing scale numbers conflict with.”

     Creative, not only in her writing, Joy has several small intricately fashioned trees which, she explains, she “sculpted” out of twisted wire; something her dad, who was an electrician, taught her to do with leftover materials. They are amazingly beautiful and complex. Her creativity is passed on to her two daughters, Nevada who is a photographer, and Mariah who is a gifted young chef.

     Joy’s voice will be heard over the din, collectively adding to the sound of freedom as she hears it. “I want to be an advocate and an activist for veterans and women’s issues. I piss a lot of people off but I’m willing to put my neck out there to effect the necessary changes.”

Story By: Cindy Reid

Photography By: Susan DeLoach

Historic Beaufort Foundation

The mission of Historic Beaufort Foundation is to support the preservation, protection and presentation of sites and artifacts of historic, architectural and cultural interest throughout Beaufort County, South Carolina.

National Historic Landmark District

The Beaufort historic district encompasses five neighborhoods, 304 contiguous acres, and almost 500 historic structures spanning three centuries of architecture. It was designated a “National Historic Landmark District” by National Park Service in 1968, which signifies a higher level of historic importance. Other areas that are also Landmark Districts include College of Charleston and the Penn Center but the Beaufort district is the largest in South Carolina. The five neighborhoods included in the designation are: the Point, the Old Commons, the Northwest Quadrant, the Bluff and Downtown.

Historic Beaufort Foundation has been at the front line of the efforts that have made Beaufort such an outstanding preservation success story.  Maxine Lutz is the Executive Director, a position she has held since 2013, although she was executive assistant for the prior 18 years. Maxine clearly is passionate about Historic Beaufort Foundation (HBF) and the important work it has been doing for over fifty years. She says, “It started in the 1940s under a different name, and Historic Beaufort Foundation really organized in 1965. Initial forays into preservation were focused on saving the big houses In the 40s, the Verdier House was slated to be demolished and replaced by a gas station. A group of early preservationists saved it. By the 1960s other historic buildings were threatened, including the Anchorage, also for the same purpose- another gas station. HBF formed and saved it too. Next, the Cuthbert House was slated to be a parking lot and it became another house saved by HBF. You can see that early on it was a big struggle against the marketplace. Over the years HBF has been involved with scores of such projects and we continue that work today.” 

Saving the Past

Maxine says, “At HBF we have three equally important missions: Preservation, Advocacy and Education.”

Preservation of course includes the restoration and stabilization of historic buildings. But it also includes the preservation of landscapes. About 20 years ago we realized the small cottages were being left to rot away. We called it ‘demolition by neglect’. And so that is where our focus is now, mostly in the Northwest Quadrant. For example we stabilized a grocery store, which was then bought and turned into two apartments. The Frogmore Lodge building was stabilized last year and we have sold it to its current owners, who will be restoring it as a single family residence. This element of preservation is a large part of what we do.”

“We advocate for historic buildings. We have a representative on the City’s Historic District Review Board. We work together to come up with the best solutions for owners of historic structures who want to make changes, allowing for modern uses but honoring the historic architecture. We look to have changes that are ‘sympathetic’ to the historic nature of the building. We work with the city looking at new construction projects, as well as analyzing issues like the new short-term rental ordinance and the proposed new zoning code. Our question is always, ‘How is this going to affect the integrity of the historic district?’ because that is always our goal. Even something such as new ordinances about solar panels and wind turbines are important, if they can be seen from the historic district.” 

“Education is such an important part of what we do here. We have operated the Verdier House since the 1970’s as an educational venue presenting an example of how antebellum planters lived. However over time, traditional house museums have become less compelling to the public nationwide. So we decided to focus additionally on using the Verdier House as an educational tool, hosting lectures and exhibits, making the house attractive to a wider audience, not just to those of us who love old houses. Verdier House Director Jacque Wedler and her docent team manage hourly house tours seven days a week, but in the last two-to-three years we have developed specific grade-level educational programs for students. Sue Stanny, Executive Assistant and Educational Coordinator, is in charge of the educational component. Sue can gear our programs for visiting school groups to specific topics and grade levels. Last summer we started a “Fun with History Day Camp” in the house for children 8-to-11, which was very popular and we are repeating it again this year. Seeing the children engage is wonderful – it is really fun to see their eyes wide open!” 

Maxine continued, “I have to add that a large part of our educational programming for adults is conducted by Events Coordinator Isabella Reeves. Not only has Isabella brought in exquisite exhibits with associated lectures and field trips, she has conducted the Fall Festival of Houses & Gardens, the Spring Architects’ Tour and countless Connoisseur Trips, all with an educational focus and a goal to promote historic preservation.

Going Forward

As to attitudes about historic preservation, Maxine says, “When preservation became a movement in the 1960s, it was a battle to change some minds. There were those who saw it as standing in the way of progress and modern life. We were often seen as ‘the party of no,’ but in reality we are ‘the party of yes, but’ … but let us help you find solutions that protect your home’s historic architecture and still allow for modern living.’ That approach has worked very well and we hope attitudes have changed. We invite homeowners, architects and contractors to talk with us. The City of Beaufort too has become more receptive to preservation because it has been shown that it is a large part of what draws visitors and new residents here. And like HBF, the historic district review board is working to find solutions to preservation issues.”

Does she feel like a history detective? She says,  “ Oh yes, and that really is the fun part. We call ourselves ‘History Nerds’! We have file cabinets full of photographs but we are always searching for more, particularly of buildings. And everything we do in preservation is always a race against time. “

When asked about her personal involvement in Beaufort and its history Maxine says,  “When I came here I realized this is the place they have been talking about, from the Civil War. While I grew up in the South, my hometown didn’t exist until 1915. This is where the re-write of Southern life occurred. The culture, the population, the economy all  changed overnight when the Union Army came and the planters fled. It was a  wholesale removal of everything ‘that was’, which is historically amazing, and the town became a completely different town after the war. There is no end of fascinating stories about Beaufort history.”

One such story directly relates to HBF. Francis Griswold, the author of the Beaufort classic “A Sea Island Lady” (published in 1939) moved to California after living and writing in Beaufort and made wise investments in the Santa Barbara real estate market. He left the HBF a generous bequest in his will that continues to provide funding for the organization today.  A case of the past helping save the present.

HBF Membership

HBF is a private, independent not-for-profit 501(c)(3) membership organization, open to anyone with an interest in historic preservation. Membership helps fund the HBF activities and projects and provides an array of benefits to the member. The HBF also has  two big fundraisers, the Lafayette Soiree (held in April) and the Fall Festival of Houses and Gardens (October 27, 28, 29 2017). The HBF also has items for sale , including the Historic Beaufort Foundation Guide to Historic Homes and Places, the official guide  to the historic houses, churches and other points of interest of Beaufort ,South Carolina. 

John Mark Verdier House Museum   

Permanent exhibits include: Diorama of 1863 Bay Street Exhibit, Robert Smalls exhibit, Civil War photos by Samuel Cooley and the Beaufort Volunteer Artillery exhibit. Hours of Operation : MondaySaturday. Docent-guided tours every hour on the half hour from 10:30 AM until 3:30 PM. Closed Sundays and Holidays. Phone: 843-379-6335. 801 Bay Street, Beaufort.

For further information visit their website http://www.historicbeaufort.org 

Story By: Carol Lauvray

Photography By: Susan DeLoach

Stuart and Wayne Heath are the quintessential Southern couple, personifying gracious hospitality. Their gorgeous Lowcountry home and garden, located in Beaufort’s historic district, look as if they are straight from the pages of Southern Living—and in fact, they have been featured in that magazine! 

Wayne hails from Charleston, where he grew up on the peninsula just down from the Citadel with an innate love of gardens and gardening. “Seeing gardens filled with azaleas and camellias and smelling the fragrance of tea olives takes me back to Charleston,” he reminisces. Stuart says, “Every Southern girl needs ‘yard flowers’ to cut and enjoy inside as well as outside—magnolias, hydrangeas, camellias and roses—and herbs like rosemary and mint. Jasmine is green all year and Confederate Jasmine is fragrant in the spring when it flowers,” she adds. 

The Clemson Years

Stuart moved to Clemson during the fifth grade with her parents. She met Wayne in 1966 at Lake Hartwell, they married in 1975, and both spent their careers teaching in Clemson-area schools before retiring. Wayne says the half-acre of gardens at their first Clemson home included a lot of azaleas and Lady Banksia roses. After 17 years there, they moved to a three-acre wooded property surrounded on three sides by Lake Hartwell. “We could not see our closest neighbor for the trees,” Stuart emphasized. “We had sun gardens, shade gardens, and rose and herb gardens,” she added. Because Wayne had grown up on the South Carolina coast and he wanted to include as many native species on their Lake Hartwell property as possible, he participated in the Native Plant Society in Clemson to learn more about plants native to that area. He also enrolled in the Master Gardener Program, which covered turf grasses, ground covers, propagation and soil analysis. Then he participated in the Upstate Master Naturalist Program, which focused on the native plants of the Piedmont foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, as well as invasive species. Stuart also enjoyed gardening and was a member of the Clemson Garden Club.

While living in Clemson, Stuart and Wayne frequently visited Beaufort to see Stuart’s college roommate and long-time friend, Patsy Hand, and her husband Owen, who live on St. Helena Island. When Stuart and Wayne decided it was time to downsize, moving to Beaufort was a natural choice for the couple and in 2012 they built a home in Beaufort’s historic district, embarking on a new gardening adventure in the Lowcountry. 

At Home in Beaufort

Stuart explains, “We started with a bare lot, 40 feet by 100 feet. There were no trees—only dirt! In Midtown Square, houses are very close to each other and we knew that we wanted tall fences for privacy—both for us and for our neighbors. We built six-foot privacy fences as a backdrop for plants, shrubs, and a few trees that provide shade, as well as color. The Savannah holly will never outgrow the space, so it’s the perfect tree for shade and it has red berries all year to attract birds. The Yaupon hollies, which remain green all year and have red berries, provide height on both sides of the yard and grow in an interesting ‘weepy’ shape. The pergola will eventually be a full green space with jasmine creating another ‘tree’ for shade. The top of the pergola has a clear greenhouse roof to keep the rain out and we use the area as a drink station or to serve when we entertain. For lighting, we’ve mounted fairy lights under the roof and we also have strings of clear bulbs crisscrossing overhead in the patio area for entertaining at night.” 

“Our objective in defining the garden space was to control our view from every room of the house—so we would see greenery instead of the houses on each side of us, and so our neighbors would have a green view instead of looking at the side of our house. One way we achieved this was by moving the garage to the side of the lot to trick the eye into seeing more green space when we are inside in our sunroom, which looks out onto the patio. Doing that also allowed space to plant a Little Gem Magnolia tree and Mondo grass, as well as the addition of a defined walkway and gate between our house and the neighbors’ house. The additional space also gives our dog Duncan a place to run. We drew the shape of the patio, which is made of tabby edged with old Savannah bricks (the same type of bricks used on the front and back steps and the living room fireplace), freehand with a stick once the house and garage were finished,” she explained.

Stuart says that the enclosed patio area is sheltered from the weather and so provides a safe place for their cat Sparrow and dog Duncan to be outdoors and away from traffic. “It has taken almost five years to develop some shade in back of our home. Wayne regularly trims the pyracantha to strengthen it and to train it to hug the garage wall. We see its greenery and red berries from our kitchen, sunroom and bedroom all year. The bank of windows in the master bedroom overlooks the backyard and opens up our small bedroom to bring in the patio area,” she added.

“Under our bedroom windows and next to the patio are holly ferns—a great choice because they are low maintenance, have just enough shade there to thrive, and remind us of the banks of holly at our last home in the Upstate,” Stuart stated. “There is a wide brick stoop under the French doors that lead from the sunroom out to the patio. These wide steps provide extra seating when we entertain and space for container plants that we can change seasonally. We also encourage creeping fig, which stays green all year, to cover some of the space on the steps.”

“The side yard with the grilling station is out of view and does not take up our limited patio space, but the area is accessible from the patio. It’s the perfect place for several hydrangea bushes that bloom all summer and fall, and for ferns and climbing pyracantha. The narrow ‘alley’ on the other side of our home, outside the kitchen and sunroom windows, has become a shady tunnel of jasmine. A decorative topper on the fence there allows the jasmine to cascade over as it grows, providing privacy, shade for plants, and another run area for our dog. Wayne enjoys collecting different varieties of ferns for this spot,” explained Stuart.

“The French doors leading into the garage from the patio make the area appear larger and less like a garage,” she says. “Just inside the garage, there is a small area with a counter, upper and lower cabinets, a sink and a refrigerator. Our ‘mini-kitchen’ is stocked with everything needed to entertain and has hardwood flooring. Until recently, we invited friends to join us for our annual New Year’s Day lunch served buffet-style in our garage. We would clear the garage, roll out an old Oriental rug to cover the concrete floor, and set up a dining room to accommodate 30 seated guests. The first year that we lived in Beaufort, 30 friends attended the lunch, but by the time we held the final event two years ago, the guest list had reached 80! So after 40 years, we decided it was time to end the tradition. We had great fun over the years at our New Year’s lunch and proved to ourselves that we could entertain in style in our limited space!” 

Since moving to Beaufort, Stuart (who is now a member of the Sea Island Garden Club) and Wayne have created a beautiful backyard sanctuary to enjoy, whether they are inside their home or outside on the patio. And in true Southern style, they continue their role as gracious hosts to friends and neighbors in their lovely home and their magical garden.