The handsome Georgian style home was built in 1793 by Virginia native Thomas Williamson. From the time he and his wife Anne moved into their home, until the end of the nineteenth century, the house remained owner-occupied and inhabited by prominent citizens of the area. At the height of its prosperity, the site included a cotton plantation with over a thousand acres. However, after the last owners moved out in the late 1800ís, the house deteriorated into a state of neglect and disrepair. The property was divided and auctioned off in 1962; the house was abandoned. After being procured and restored by Bob and Bedie Overman in the late 1960ís, The Nicholls-Crook House received the distinction of being listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Jim and Suzanne Brown, current owners and resident innkeepers of Nicholls-Crook Plantation House, purchased the old home in 1987 and converted it into a bed and breakfast inn reflecting authentic Colonial decor and charm. Suzanne's background in the service industry and Jim's history expertise mesh well for excellent innkeeping at a historic inn, a bed and breakfast where genial cordiality reigns. In addition to innkeeping, Suzanne gardens and arranges dried flowers, a Colonial craft. Her creative designs embellish the inn. New flower drying techniques have been developed by Suzanne, and her hobby has blossomed into a cottage industry. Visitors can't help but notice this talented lady's eye for artistic detail and design throughout the house and gardens.
Located on an irenic country lot, acre-age originally received from royal land grants in the mid-1700's, the bricks of the Georgian style home are laid in the Flemish bond. The large chimney on the southside of the house serves three fireplaces, each on a different floor. Period gardens, consisting primarily of native material in a natural configuration, and a white rock courtyard, shaded by one of the state's largest pecan trees, present additional tranquillity.
The interior of the home is tastefully appointed with antique furnishings from the area. I'm especially fascinated with the original gold leaf burnishing recently discovered, beneath layers of paint, on the parlor's 18th century Adam-style mantle.
For romantics, a week-end in Thomas' Room, a large third floor dormer room with a sitting area, ensures an experience to savor. Dormer windows provide wonderful views, and the setting reminds one of enigmatic Rumplestiltskin's attic hideaway. There's even an early 19th century spinning wheel and weasel in the corner, along with an aged quilt-draped church pew. Nightly turn-down service precedes cuddle-down time, and guests discover a shiny red apple awaiting them atop red, white, and blue plaid sheets. As in each room, a mini-refrigerator provides complimentary juices. Once the bedding-down spot for six brothers, Thomas' Room is a cozy and homey area with anchoring power. A private bath, with a shower, adjoins the bedchamber.
Breakfast prepared by Suzanne, a former caterer, encourages hopping out of bed on the coldest of mornings. Served in a quaint "tavern room" with two fireplaces, burning on chilly morns, guests may expect such breakfast delights as croissants, sausage biscuits, pancakes with sautéed apples, a breakfast pizza, an over-sized chocolate chip muffin, or a tasty combination of these treats. Servings pile up high.
Nicholls-Crook Plantation House offers ongoing package week-ends with a variety of exciting themes. The ever-popular winter open-hearth cooking evenings are now scheduled for December 19, January 16 and 30, February 6, 1998.
When I arrive at Nicholls-Crook Plantation House I'm captivated; when I leave, I'm mesmerized.
INN: The Nicholls-Crook Plantation House Bed & Breakfast: LOCATION: 120 Plantation Drive; Woodruff, SC 29388 (near Spartanburg); TEL.: 864-476-8820; ACCOMMODATIONS: 3 guest rooms, 1 suite, 1 private bath; CHILDREN: Yes, over 8; BREAKFAST: Full; RATES: $75-$95; CREDIT CARDS: American Express; RECOMMENDED RESTAURANTS: Abbey's Grill, 149 W. Main St.; Spartanburg, SC. (583-4660); PUBLICATIONS: Best Places To Stay In The South, The Sandlapper; WEB SITE: www.bbonline.com/sc/nicholls
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