On a warm January Tuesday morning, our Proprietors Rick Widman and Linn Lesesne grabbed their favorite traveling partner, Penelope the Pineapple, and headed to our state’s capitol. While in Columbia, the three accepted a Resolution from the House of Representatives honoring the John Rutledge House’s 250th Anniversary. Our local Member of the House, James Merrill, presented the Resolution on the floor of the State House. The Resolution pays homage to John Rutledge and the home he left behind in Charleston, and honors Rick, for transforming “this beloved landmark into a charming and successful inn.”
Not only is the Resolution our first official anniversary gift, but truly, an incredible honor. One we’ll cherish for the next 250 years. Now with this great day on the books, we’re looking forward to the next of our anniversary celebrations, a reunion for students of the Gaud School for Boys, who once attended class in the rooms of our inn.
For those interested in reading more about our history and recent honor, here are a few snippets of the Resolution…
“The SC House of Representatives is pleased to learn that the John Rutledge House in Charleston will celebrate its two hundred fiftieth anniversary in 2013 and whereas, John Rutledge, one of the fifty-five signers of the US Constitution, in 1763 built his stunning antebellum home at 116 Broad Street in historic downtown Charleston.
Originally Mr. Rutledge’s wedding gift to his bride, Elizabeth Grimke, the house was exquisitely restored in 1989 by its current proprietor, Richard Widman, and is one of the only fifteen surviving homes, belonging to the signers, and whereas, as AAA Four Diamond property, the John Rutledge House Inn offers elegant accommodations featuring antiques and historically accurate reproductions and recently placed number five among the “Top 40 Hotels in the South” in the 2012 Conde Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice Awards.
Now designated a National Historic Landmark, the house figured as a backdrop for various important events in the annals of American history. In the second-floor drawing room and adjoining library, John Rutledge, as the chairman of the drafting committee, wrote several drafts of the US Constitution. George Washington had breakfast with Mrs. Rutledge during his presidential visit to Charleston.
In 1853 the house was renovated, and many distinctive architectural details were added, including the Italian marble fireplaces, ornate parquet floors, and elaborate ironwork depicting the Federal Eagle and South Carolina Palmetto tree as at tribute to Mr. Rutledge’s service in federal and state governments. During the Civil War, the house survived a great fire that destroyed a neighboring building in which the Articles of Secession were signed and for more than one hundred years, the house served variously as a residence, office and home to the Gaud School.
The house then sat vacant for several years until 1989, when it was returned to its former glory. Its inlaid floors, plasterwork, and staircase were restored, and modern conveniences were tastefully added, the result being the transformation of this historic structure into an elegant inn.
In celebration of the home’s 250th anniversary, the John Rutledge House Inn plans a number of commemorative events, among them a Reunion for the Graduates of the Gaud School for Boys and Semiquincentennial Celebration Weekend.
In recognizing the significance of the John Rutledge House to the history of our great State and nation, the House of Representatives takes great pleasure in honoring the two hundred fiftieth anniversary of this Charleston icon and in saluting Richard Widman on his fine work restoring and transforming the house into the beautiful John Rutledge House Inn.
Now therefore, be it resolved by the House of Representatives that the members of the South Carolina House of Representatives, by this resolution, recognize the John Rutledge House in Charleston on the occasion of its two hundred fiftieth anniversary, honor its illustrious past, and congratulate Richard Widman, proprietor, on the transformation of this beloved landmark into a charming and successful inn.”
-Robert W. Harrell, Jr, Speaker of the House and Charles F. Reid, Clerk of the House