Welcome to the #AtoZ Blog Challenge and a Tour of Hotels & Inns
Watch a brief Youtube Video for an introduction to this fabulous hotel
I have stayed at the Francis Marion while attending A Garden Conservatory Meeting. In the restaurant I ordered the best crab cakes I have ever eaten. Charleston is a walking city and the hotel is nicely situated to stroll out the door and keep going. It is the gardens and architecture that I love about Charleston. It inspires me to write. Pat Conroy’s book set in Charleston, South of Broad, describes the city in Conroy’s lyrical voice. Below is a paragraph I wrote after an experience I had one lovely evening out strolling.
Standing on a corner, talking in his soft Charleston voice, I passed Ashley Wilkes, alive and well. Five feet eight inches, slender, his blue eyes matched the oxford cloth shirt he wore, his cuffs rolled back several turns. This man appeared as window dressing for the garden tour I was walking. His bow tie and dress pants were a perfect costume for a southern gentleman. I assumed he was standing outside his home, a place filled with family antiques and portraits of his, or someone else’s, ancestors. I couldn’t help but wonder if this man could survive anywhere but in Charleston. I continued my walk over the cobblestones as the light retreated, an aura of mystery seeping into the twilight. It was a moment in time I will always remember.
In writing about the historic Francis Marion Hotel at 387 King St., I want you to think about the 1920s, the Golden Age of railroads, radio and grand hotels. The Charleston Renaissance was in full bloom. The Francis Marion, 12 stories high, was named for the Revolutionary War hero Francis Marion, the “Swamp Fox.” It was built by local investors at a cost of $1.5 million from plans by noted New York architect William Lee Stoddart. (1868–1940) His design philosophy emphasized efficiency in smaller hotel architecture, less luxurious, aimed at serving the market niche of traveling sales representatives.
The hotel was built in 1924 by the Marion Square Realty Co., a group headed by former mayor of Charleston T.T. Hyde. The original ownership group formed on March 13, 1920. When the hotel opened on February 7, 1924, the Francis Marion was the largest and grandest hotel in the Carolinas. Restored in 1996 the Francis Marion Hotel now combines 1920’s style and grace with 21st Century comfort and convenience in the heart of historic Charleston on Marion Square.
A reminder: The famous 1920s dance craze, the Charleston, began in the dance halls here and defined an era. Another of the long lasting works from the Charleston Renaissance is the story of Porgy and Bess. The novel, written by Dubose Heyward in 1925, went on to become a stage play and later the opera by George Gershwin.