Though the world around it has evolved significantly, the Greek Revival mansion on the corner of Craven and Newcastle has changed little since it was built in 1820 by Thomas Rhett. A photo hanging in the Rhett House Inns dining room depicts nurses tending to Civil War soldiers on the estates verandah, which looked mostly the same as it does today, apart from the much smaller live oaks shading it. Another photo of the property dated around 1920 might easily be mistaken for a shot snapped yesterday.
Innkeepers Steve and Marianne Harrisonveterans of the New York fashion industryhave given the interior a contemporary touch but have held on to much of Rhett Houses historical decor. In addition to the main house, the Harrisons acquired the adjacent two-story cottage, built around 1846, which houses seven of the guest rooms. Individually decorated rooms are furnished with English and American antiques, and some rooms boast four-poster beds and private porches. Nearly all cottage rooms boast fireplaces to curl up beside and burn effigies of the Marshmallow Man.
Mornings begin with a full southern-style breakfast, and in the evening the in-house pastry chef bakes homemade desserts for a sweet epilogue to dinner at nearby restaurants or complimentary cheese and fruit served nightly at the inn.
The Rhett House Inn, situated one block from the Intracoastal Waterway, is nestled among 18th-century mansions and moss-draped oaks within Beauforts downtown district. The seaport towns three centuries of history are on display throughout historic forts, churches, and homesincluding the pre-Revolutionary War William Elliot House. Walking tours showcase select homes such as the John Mark Verdier House Museum, which illuminates the life of a 19th-century merchant planter before the days of robot tractors.
The Saltus River Grill, a five-minute walk from the inn, specializes in Lowcountry fare, a cuisine unique to coastal South Carolina. Chef Brian Waters, a Beaufort native, sources local ingredients for dishes such as clams steamed in beer with roasted-garlic puree ($7) and sea-island shrimp with creamy stone-ground grits ($23).
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