Two thousand and seventeen was a big year for Ben and Kate Towill of the Charleston-based design firm Basic Projects. They revived the three-hundred-year-old Ferry Boat Inn in Ben’s hometown of Cornwall, England. They opened Basic Kitchen, their veggie-focused, flavor-forward Charleston restaurant. They also had a baby. “I wouldn’t recommend it,” Kate says. “But we got it done.” As a result, when 2020 arrived and a global pandemic hit just weeks before they were scheduled to welcome guests to their latest project, the Post House Restaurant and Inn, they didn’t panic, but they did hit pause.
“We really wanted to make sure we got everything right,” Ben says. Delaying the opening allowed plenty of time to develop a plan that ensures that both their guests and staff feel safe and healthy in the historic space—and work out any lingering kinks in the Post House guest experience. Now the Towills plan to debut their long-awaited project within the week: The restaurant will open on August 22, and the inn on August 24.
Built in 1896, the three-story property is located in the Old Village—one of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina’s oldest waterfront communities—at the corner of Venning and Pitt Streets. The leafy commercial stretch has been used as a film location on more than one occasion with good reason: It’s a block and a half from the Charleston harbor; Pitt Street Pharmacy, an old-school soda fountain and drug store just two doors down, still slings grilled cheeses and milkshakes; nearby, Leeah’s Old Village Wine Shop (another 2020 addition) hosts daily wine tastings; and if you’re up for a walk, you’ll find the best view in town down at the end of Old Pitt Street Bridge.
“The Old Village is amazing,” Ben says. “And somehow, it still feels like sort of secret.” A restaurant has occupied the Post House space for more than forty years, and from the start, the Towills recognized the beloved neighborhood hub’s potential. “It’s interesting when you take on these types of places that already mean so much to the community,” Ben continues. “Our role has really been to ask ourselves, ‘How do we imagine this for the next forty years?’ And what we’ve tried to do is just update this magical building in an incredible neighborhood and create a place where you want to come hang out, whether you live in Mount Pleasant or the Old Village or are just visiting.”
The most significant change the Towills made was to flip-flop the bar and dining room, which required a top-to-bottom renovation of the first floor. “We wanted to bring the bar up to the front to create that glow and energy on the street,” Ben explains. “And where the old bar was, we created a big open dining room.” A large exposed-brick fireplace keeps the space cozy. For the menu, chef Evan Gaudreau created a lineup of contemporary American dishes, with a focus on fresh seafood hauled off the fishing boats docked at nearby Shem Creek and seasonal produce. “We’ve also got an amazing fried chicken,” Ben says. “A lot of R-and-D went into that fried chicken.”
Upstairs, Kate outfitted the inn’s seven bedrooms with vintage rugs, archival William Morris wallpaper, bespoke light fixtures, local art, and a mix of antiques she handpicked and dragged back from Brimfield, Massachusetts, in a twenty-foot U-Haul. “I wanted it to feel like an old Southern inn, but with all the modern creature comforts: a nice robe, a big comfy bed, room service—all those elements,” Kate explains of the design. Allison Williamson at the Charleston Artist Collective, another neighborhood fixture, helped Kate source art throughout the space. “When it comes to my personal style, I don’t love as many patterns,” Kate says, “but with Post House, I really wanted to have fun with mixing patterns and textures, and so we’ve really pushed that, and it’s come out really cool, I think.”