Amy and I moved to Beaufort last year with every intention of purchasing and operating an inn/B&B. After looking at several properties, we came very close to purchasing one in downtown Beaufort. While we never saw this deal through, we were always drawn to the large empty house on Bay Street that fronted the river and had a 3 story front porch. In August of last year, we finally asked our agent to show us this property known as The Anchorage House. While the outside of the Anchorage is amazing, we found the inside to be even more spectacular!
It was during that first visit that Will McCullough, our real estate broker, called Cooter Ramsey, a local architect. Cooter came right over and walked through it with us, rattling off his ideas for converting the 1770 home into an inn. Little did we know that we were walking through the house with a Southern Architect Celebrity (with a name like Cooter, you better be famous)!
This is where our big dreams began and our vision became clear for opening up an upscale Inn in the center of this beautiful seaside town. This began a nine month process of finalizing our plans and getting them modified, re-modified and finally approved by numerous committees who all wanted to have a say in what was to become of this mansion. Not only is the Anchorage House on the National Register of Historic Places, but it also has an easement placed on it by Historic Beaufort Foundation (HBF). This was created in 1971 when HBF bought the house to keep it from being demolished. The easement gave them the right to approve any external changes to the property regardless of future ownership. Beyond HBF, we also had to obtain approvals form the City of Beaufort’s Historic Review Board, the Planning Department and the United States Department of Interior.
Through Cooter’s experience of working with HBF and through many compromises between their board an us, we were able to hear the words we had waited nine months for….”go forth and build”.
During this design phase we were simultaneously working with our “team” of experts on securing financing for a start up hospitality business... not the safest business in the bank’s eyes. This became a full time job for Amy and me. We cannot say there weren’t times when we didn’t feel like throwing in the towel and finding something easier to do. However, for the most part we stayed positive, calm and focused, keeping our eyes on the prize, which we have no doubt will be fabulous! If you are thinking of getting an SBA loan, ask us about it. We can safely say we are now experts!
Getting from August to the end of May was a whirlwind tour through the “ins (no pun intended) and outs” of the hospitality business, small business finance and historic home remodeling. However, now all the fun really begins! The plans are approved, the financing is in place and it’s time to start deconstructing and constructing!
We will be posting our progress regularly on this blog along with before, during and after photos. I know a really good photographer that is going to help us out! We invite you to follow our blog and be a part of this journey!