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.
You may have wondered, if you've been following this column for awhile: Is there a real mountain bed-and-breakfast in South Carolina? I mean, not just a B&B; from where you can see the mountains, but one you have to negotiate winding, steep roads to get to? Like some of the B&Bs; up in . . . er . . . Wyoming, maybe.
You bet! Helen and Dick Gillespie can go one better: Why not a South Carolina B&B; on a charming mountain lake?
The lake is Lanier, on the state's northern border. The Gillespies' home is Lakeshore Bed-and-Breakfast. And you've gotta be there to fully appreciate it.
It's a gorgeous modern home. The Gillespies offer two guest suites. The Lakefront Suite, where I stayed, looks across the water to the homes on the opposite mountainside. "When it's clear," Dick says, "you can see two mountain ranges: the real one and the reflection in the water."
It's truly glorious - and the alternate Nature Suite is hardly a let-down, with its wildlife art and spacious sitting room. In either quarters, you're given pretty much the run of the house.
The Gillespies retired here in 1994. For Dick it was a return to his roots. A design engineer, his family is from South Carolina. His father, a 1927 Clemson grad, moved to Illinois, where Dick was born. Dick met Helen, a New Yorker whose career is in business administration and tax work, while working in Texas, where he was an automotive equipment designer.
After considering a list of possible retirement sites in the South, they chose this one. Why? They mapped out the places that interested them, and checked out all of them on a return trip to Texas after visiting a daughter in Virginia. Tryon, NC, was one prospect. While there, they discovered Lake Lanier - and this house, which was for sale. "We never looked at another house," Helen says. "It was just ideal."
Bed-&-breakfast wasn't on their minds, initially. But since it was "more house than we need," they considered a B&B; to justify it.
Helen had a lot of family heirloom antiques to contribute. The 100-plus-year-old Regina Corona music machine in the den, for example, was bought by her grandparents to use for entertainment at the bar in their inn/hotel in Ghent, NY. It still works. Currier & Ives prints on the walls also are from the hotel.
The house is 5,600 square feet, including Dick's downstairs shop where he restores old cars. The original owner incorporated native woods and local fireplace rocks into the house design, and hired an architect to maximize the view. You get squirrels and pileated woodpeckers in the trees, ducks and Canada geese on the fog-enshrouded water in the morning. Blue and green heron. "You can see forever when it's clear," Dick says.
My Lakefront Suite would have been comfortable for an extended work stay. An especially nice touch is the narrow skylight in the Jacuzzi area.
Guests have visited from as far away as California. Many are weekenders from within three hours: Charlotte, Atlanta, Columbia.
Breakfast (served overlooking the lake) typically includes a varied fruit plate, beverages, breads and pastries, cereal and yogurt. Her homemade apricot bread is worth the trip.
What's there to see close by? Scenic Hwy. 11 is only seven miles away (Dick can show you a back way). Numerous golf courses are in the area. There are the antique shops in Landrum, Tryon, Columbus and Saluda - and more in the larger cities of Spartanburg and Hendersonville, a little further away.
So, you want a mountain get-away? You got one - in South Carolina.
Lakeshore Bed-and-Breakfast (1026 E Lakeshore Drive, Landrum, SC 29356; (864) 457-5330) has 2 guest suites with private baths; $75-105; discounts for seniors, corporate guests and extended stays. No pet. Children over 12 okay. Smoking outside only.