Be sure to visit the recently restored CCC-built Lodge while you’re at Table Rock State Park. It is a remarkable piece of architecture. Well beyond my powers of description. Even with photos to help. Above you see a view of the main Lodge entrance with Table Rock peeking over the roof. And here’s a short video of the ramp and lower level:
The CCC completed the Lodge as part of their overall Table Rock State Park project in 1938. Using, as they did at all of their South Carolina State Park projects, materials available nearby. Today We’re the beneficiaries of their limited resources.
Here’s why. The logs used to build this Lodge are hand hewn American chestnut. When was the last time you saw American chestnut logs? Hand hewn or otherwise. Well, they’re here. Beautifully restored and preserved.
Here’s an example of the stone work. Keep in mind, all of this stone was quarried and prepared nearby. No visit from the friendly Home Depot or Lowe’s Home Improvement truck. Here’s another short video that shows more of this stonework.
According to Park Manager Poll Knowland, this building for many years housed a restaurant that served good fried chicken. A very busy restaurant. Popular with the local community. Its CCC builders, however, never intended it to serve that purpose.
Busy restaurants are tough on buildings. Even those built expressly for that purpose. This was no exception. Further, with antiquated, paper-wrapped electrical wiring and the potential for serious accidents in any commercial kitchen, it was only a matter of time before this irreplaceable resource was reduced to a pile of smoldering rubble.
Think what a disaster that would have been. The loss of those beautiful American chestnut logs alone is painful to contemplate. They’re irreplaceable. At any price. Here’s a stone fireplace that for the convenience of the restaurant had been covered over for four decades. Now it’s visible again.
So, a top-to-bottom renovation was the only answer. Park Manager Knowland began plans for it in 2000, not long after his arrival at Table Rock. Community resistance in the beginning was fairly strong. But that changed as the project progressed. And now the community is justly proud of this unique example of CCC era “Parkitecture.”
The building now is a showplace. But a working showplace. Its two levels of enclosed meeting/seating area, two open porches with spectacular views, smaller preparation rooms, and even a light catering kitchen, make it a popular site for weddings, conferences, and board meetings. All at quite reasonable rental fees.
Stay tuned for more on Table Rock State Park’s features.