Sandlapper Slept Here. . . .

Calhoun Street B&B, Sumter

by Dan Harmon

EDITOR'S NOTE: "Sandlapper Slept Here" is a column that appears in each issue of Sandlapper Magazine, featuring bed-and-breakfasts and historic inns throughout the Palmetto State. Here's an example. If you find it interesting, you may want to peruse our back issue listings for information about previous columns.

When they were living in California a few years ago, Mackenzie Sholtz asked her husband David what he really wanted to do in life. He said, "I don't know, but I know what I want to do when I retire: run a bed-and-breakfast." She said, "How would you like to retire early?"

Her cousin wanted to sell the beautiful Sumter house that had been built in 1892 by Mackenzie's great-great-uncle Mark Reynolds. Wistful to return to her home state, Mackenzie happened to share David's interest in B&B proprietorship. They closed the deal two years ago and spent a year preparing it for guests.

"One of the reasons I really wanted to do this house was the good times I remember with my cousin," Mackenzie says. "It always was a great place to meet family."

The house is practically a museum, thanks to some treasured heirlooms and the Sholtz' joint interests in quaint artifacts, period furniture and a variety of artistic styles. Especially remarkable are a 14th-Century Madonna cabinet that belonged to Mackenzie's aunt, a towering 19th-Century mirror with lion carvings, a lovely grandfather clock built for them by David's 93-year-old grandfather, and a cigar store wooden Indian that was her grandmother's. A stone column carved with medieval heads also dates to the 14th Century. In the dining room, Russian whaling lamps adorn the mantlepiece.

An inviting antechamber off the dining room is a reading nook they call the Yosemite Room. Pictures of Yosemite National Park (where they were married) include Mt. Banner, which David has climbed.

The Iris Room, with its three-window bay, has a gigantic armoire and queen-sized Empire bed from the 1840s - more heirlooms from Mackenzie's Stateburg family. The Audubon Room features a stepped canopy rice bed and Audubon art.

In the Heron Room are her great-grand-father's writing desk and a huge English trunk at least 200 years old. "It's kind of neat having furniture that belonged to someone in the family, giving it new life," says Mackenzie, who majored in medieval studies in college. This room also has a three-window bay.

The Monterey Room, overlooking the side garden, has an antique bookcase from her family's Burough Plantation in Stateburg. Its designated private bath, down the hall, is in a figure-eight design. Offering twin beds, it's suggested for friends traveling together.

Architecturally, the house has almost 4,000 square feet, with four foyers and two staircases; I'll let them explain the whys and wherefores of the design when you arrive. As Mackenzie puts it: "Everything in the house has a story." They plan to develop the attic into additional guest quarters.

The breakfast menu for guests changes daily. It may be Atlanta Surprise, Eggs Calhoun, Amish Bread or Cafe Fanny Granola. Or you can opt for cereal or eggs and grits.

You'll find that the Sholtzes love having guests. "It's addictive," Mackenzie says. "If we don't have guests staying with us, we'll invite friends over. We're insane!"

Is the venture what they'd anticipated?

"Absolutely," says David, a native Californian.

"It's even more fun than I thought it would be," Mackenzie says. "The people who come to B&Bs are really nice."

And after 16 years away, she's happy to be back in South Carolina. "It's nice to have family about."

Calhoun Street Bed & Breakfast (302 W. Calhoun St., Sumter, SC 29150; (803) 775-7035 or (800) 355-8119) has four guest rooms, all with private baths, starting at $55 per night. Smoking outside only. No pets except guide dogs. Children at owners' discretion.

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