Amy and Frank Lesesne didn’t set out to be innkeepers. But they did want live in Beaufort, South Carolina. The couple fell in love with the Lowcountry hamlet after a brief visit, and vowed to return when their kids were grown. They didn’t last that long though, and two years ago, after Frank sold his business, they uprooted their life in Atlanta and set a course for the coast. The hospitality business, and by extension Anchorage 1770 (to open in June), seemed a logical step toward making a life in Beaufort.
The Lesesnes looked at inns for sale in Beaufort’s historic district—full of Federal, neoclassical, and Greek-revival showpieces—but one glance at the five-story, pre-Revolutionary William Elliott House, locally dubbed the Anchorage, and they were sunk. “As soon as we walked in, we knew this was it,” says Amy. “The view of the river from the top of the house—there’s just nowhere else in town with a view like that.” One of the largest and oldest homes in the country made of tabby (a colonial building material of crushed oyster shells and lyme), the Anchorage was built sometime around 1770. Hence, the inn’s name. And in the centuries since, it’s served as a private residence, a Union Army hospital, a clubhouse for the Sea Island Hotel, a cultural salon, an office building, and a restaurant. In the 1970s, it was nearly razed to the ground by developers until the Historic Beaufort Foundation stepped in to save the place.
To bring the home into the twenty-first century, the Lesesnes enlisted the help of Beaufort-native, architect Cooter Ramsey, and interior designer Michelle Prentice. “Michelle has a knack for taking classic looks and turning them into something current,” says Amy. Today, there are fifteen completely renovated rooms, all with river views. A South Carolina-sourced country breakfast greets you each morning, and there are cocktails in the afternoon. Bikes are available if you want to pedal into town—though it’s also within easy walking distance. There’s yoga on the porch. Tennis lessons can be easily wrangled. There’s a masseuse on staff. And a partnership with Bay Street Outfitters offers guided fishing trips. Or book a kayak at the marina across the street and paddle out to the sandbar at low tide. The folks in the kitchen at Anchorage will pack the picnic lunch.
Although the inn isn’t open until June, you can book reservations through their website now.