Sandlapper Slept Here. . . .

The Jefferson House, Anderson

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.

It's in the country, but downtown Anderson, I-85 and the famous Jockey Lot are only minutes away. You want location? You got location.

And a lot more. Vaughnde Morris, who opened The Jefferson House a year ago, had spent more than 20 years as a hotel manager and consultant in different regions. It shows. Every detail is attended to with the eye of one who knows travelers and what they want in accommodations. The atmosphere is warm and fuzzy, and the place is immaculate.

Built in 1894 by Quincy Hammond, the Greek Revival home is enormous and features interesting nooks and angles. One guest room shows the original hardwood floor, but most areas of the house are carpeted, lending quietness and warmth.

There are five guest rooms. Mine offered a brass bed and a TV "wing" with an antique feinting couch for the viewer's perch. Waking in the morning, I caught a glimmer of color behind the white window curtain - a small section of stained glass.

One of the downstairs rooms is narrow and has a soft single bed installed in what once was closet space. It's a perfect hide-away for a solo traveler - and for that reason is usually occupied. Some regular guests always request that room.

There are two spacious lounge/reading areas for guests on the upper floor, one at the front, one at the rear, connected by a long wall of library shelves. In the front area you'll find an exercise bike and honor-system icebox. In the rear is a writing desk with a phone. Vaughnde offers fax service for her guests.

Breakfast, served on the enclosed back porch, typically is heavy continental; you can request a full breakfast instead. Always at the table are some interesting surprises, compliments of the chef.

"I really cater to the corporate accounts," Vaughnde says. "Those people usually want a much bigger breakfast on weekends than weekdays."

It's a full-time career for Vaughnde, who in less than a year developed a thriving corporate business by "making sales calls and knocking on doors." Business travelers like what they find. Sometimes they don't realize they get daily maid, valet and laundry service as part of the package, Vaughnde observes. "It's not just a home with rented bedrooms."

Predictably, the hours are long - some days from 5 a.m. to midnight. "There are days when I am really tired," the hostess says. "But I've never done anything I loved more than this."

She says if she won the sweepstakes, she'd spend her life buying, restoring and selling old houses.

The home stands on a four-acre tract ("two under yard and two under kudzu," Vaughnde jokes). It's surrounded by towering oak, pine and pecan trees. "Some of the biggest acorns I've ever seen fall from those trees," she says.

Hammond, who lived here with four generations of relatives, also built the mansion across the road (now adjacent to a golf course). The Jefferson House has had several owners, including former Anderson Independent editor John Ginn and his wife. The Ginns are credited with renovating the house.

Whence the name? "I wanted an aristocratic name, so I thought of Jefferson, for Thomas Jefferson, Jefferson Davis - and my son."

Her son Jeff Morris owns Dakotas Restaurant in Anderson and caters, often helping his mother with events at the B&B. She frequently offers luncheons honoring secretaries of the various local companies from whom she receives guest referrals. "It's our way of thanking them for their business . . . and asking for more."

Hammond Major, a Hammond family descendent living in Pennsylvania, says the family is thrilled that the homeplace now is a bed-and-breakfast and other people can share "Granny's house."

It's the kind of home I didn't want to leave.

The Jefferson House (2835 Old Williamston Road, Anderson, SC 29401; (864) 224-0678) has six rooms and suites with private baths, $56-115 per night. Smoking outside only. No pets. Children welcome.

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