Churches & Lighthouses
~Monday, February 8, 2021~
Finally a sunny day and one we should take advantage of while we can. Though we have a bit more sightseeing to do in Savannah, we wanted to check out the town of Beaufort, SC (only about 30 miles away). A good friend of ours recommended a while back, that we stop there.
And I must say, it’s so nice to see the Savannah skyline in sunny weather. Everything looks alot more alive and cheerful when the sun shows itself….don’t you think? Driving across the Talmadge Memorial Bridge which spans the Savannah River, we crossed state lines from Georgia to South Carolina. The bridge is noticeably steep as you approach the center of it to clear the many ships that enter/leave this busy port area. Savannah is the nation’s 4th busiest seaport.
Beaufort appears to be quite a spread out city, with its small population of 13,000 people. Our first stop of the day was the Saint Helena Parish Chapel of Ease Ruins on St. Helena Island.
Set among beautiful oaks draped with their Spanish moss so typical of the south, it’s amazing to see how much of this relic is still standing. Built in the mid-1700’s and with brick in short supply, this structure was built in Tabby construction (a mixture of shell aggregate, lime and water). It’s amazing to be looking at something that was here before the REVOLUTIONARY WAR!!. Back in the day, many of the plantation owners were too far away from the primary church, so this church made it easier to attend regular services…..thus “the Chapel of Ease”. After the Civil War, the church was used as an outpost until a forest fire destroyed it in 1886, never to be repaired.
Next was Hunting Island State Park, also home to the Hunting Island Lighthouse-one of the few publicly accessible lighthouses.
It seems like we’re lighthouse buffs lately, but the eastern seaboard is chalk full of them. The first thing you notice is its distinctive painting style, which all lighthouses have. This one is a horizontal half band of black and white as opposed to the one we saw in St. Augustine that had a spiral black and white motif. Another noticeable difference is the construction. Built in 1873, it was assembled in iron sections, each weighing about 1700 lbs. but lined in brick. St. Augustine’s was built all of brick, inside and out. But they do share a few things in common…….their beacon of navigation and their amazing views from the top. Once we climbed the 167 steps, we were blown away (somewhat literally) by the scenery from above (see photos). Hold on to your sunglasses and hats everyone! Though it no longer is a functioning lighthouse (deactivated in 1933), it lures visitors to check out the island and its lovely beaches (preferably on a non-windy day like we had today).
Prior to checking out the lighthouse, we had seen a short film in the visitor center (yes, it was open!) giving us a little background on the challenges of the location of the lighthouse. Erosion was a constant threat, until one day the tide had reached only 35 feet from the keeper’s house. Eventually, the lighthouse, and keeper’s house were relocated in 1889, a mile to their present location. We also came to learn what a difficult, lonely and isolated life the lightkeeper and his family had, all to keep a light burning. I know that sounds so simplistic but it’s crazy to think of the sacrifice the family made to do such a mundane task. Their homes were usually large and beautiful, likely enticing them to stay.
We also wanted to check out the campgrounds while we were here to see if it should be added to our list. The answer...no. The original 150 site campground, only steps to the beach, had fallen victim to recent hurricanes, dwindling the sites down to 80. Most of the campsites have very little privacy due to the lack of vegetation obliterated by the massive storms. I’m sure after rehabilitation efforts are complete, this campground will return to its former, lovely state.
Lastly, we drove to the historical section of Beaufort with its stunning southern architecture and beautiful waterfront homes once owned by plantation owners. And the homes and properties are enormous! Reminds me of the large homes of the Bellevue Avenue Historic District in Rhode Island, but different architecture. Formally founded in 1711, Beaufort is the second oldest town in South Carolina, following Charleston, and is the first port in the U.S. to build and launch a transatlantic vessel. There are 68 islands comprising Beaufort County and as far as the eye can see, is surrounded by salt marshes. The town was a bit sleepy (maybe due to the pandemic), but we still enjoyed our walk about along the marina and Bay Street.
After touring beautiful towns, it always seems to rekindle our discussion of where to move to next. The list keeps changing. Most of the places we are visiting are well-known, and generally more expensive. So we have to be careful of the lure to those areas which would quickly put us over our budget. So what we are finding in talking to a few agents is looking at the charming suburbs of those more expensive cities. And there’s a difference between liking a city because it’s a great place to visit as opposed to being a great place to live. Take for instance Savannah…..we love the city with its quaintness and charm, but it doesn’t check all of our boxes in terms of property size, house size and age. And we vacillate between our favorite town so far…..Pagosa Springs, CO and the southeast. Pagosa Springs has the most stunning scenery by far, but is very rural and hours from an airport (we want you guys to all come see us you know). Then we talk about living in the south, escaping mosquitos and humidity during the summer months to places like Canada perhaps. Or maybe we can tolerate living in Vermont and join the snowbirds heading to Florida for the winters. So many options and so much to consider. Anyway, here is our list by state as of today: 🥴 (in no particular order)
South Carolina (we were there in 2018 and returning)
We’re all ears if you have other suggestions.