Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Catholic Presbyterian Church in Chester County, South Carolina

Church front and tree

Next time you’re driving on Interstate I-77 between Columbia and Charlotte, take an hour or so (at least) to turn off onto South Carolina Highway 97 toward Chester. In just a few miles you’ll see the sign below on the right-hand side of the road.

Road Sign on 97

I’d noticed it at least a dozen times on trips to Chester State Park before looking up a reference. “Catholic Presbyterian Church”? What in the world? One would hardly expect to find such rampant ecumenicism in Chester, South Carolina. I mean! But there it was. In brown and white, so to speak. “Catholic Presbyterian Church.”

A few months back curiosity won out and I made the indicated turn to have a look. Just a mile or so down the road, I found a no-nonsense brick church building, sign, and a couple of enormous trees shading a good portion of an unpaved parking area.

Church and sign

I took a few photos. The sanctuary was locked with nobody around. But this is an active congregation. A quick Google search of “Catholic Presbyterian Church” confirms that and explains the origin of the unusual name. Formed in May of 1759, the original congregation included members from various Protestant sects and denominations, primarily Presbyterian. Hence the “Catholic” designation.

CatholicPres Graves

In addition to the 1842 brick sanctuary building, the third erected by this remarkable Congregation, the site includes a well maintained cemetery. Expanded and still active. 

graves and wall

Rev War Soldires of CP Church

Beyond its unusual name, Catholic Presbyterian may be best known for the large number of soldiers it provided during the Revolutionary War. Pictured above is the honor role listing their names and date of death. If you click the photo for a larger view you’ll be able to read each name and date. Some survived the War; many didn’t.

Tomb of Infant

This is an active cemetery and not a tourist attraction. With that in mind, walk carefully through the rows of graves. Many of the inscriptions remain legible. A history lesson in stone.

wall and graves 2

A remarkable place, easy to find and to access, well worth a visit.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Sakura Restaurant Flood Recovery Efforts in Columbia, South Carolina

01 At His Post

Just two years ago Mr. Norio Saito agreed to do a short interview for CarolinaConsidered about his remarkable sushi restaurant in Columbia, South Carolina. If you missed it, here’s a link:

A glance through the interview videos with Mr. Saito will show he’s hardly a publicity-seeker. Indeed, I had quite a time getting him to agree to appear on camera. Mr. Saito pours all of his energy and effort into preparing the very best traditional sushi dishes he can. Our extended family and friends have enjoyed the result for nearly 30 years.

You’ve probably heard about the flood that raged through downtown Columbia, South Carolina, last week. Well, the shopping center in which Sakura is located was smack dab in the middle of the very worst flooding. Fast-moving water clear to the eaves! This Facebook page has photos of the damage:

The good news is that Mr. Saito hopes to rebuild. A recent Sakura employee, Mr. Jamie Altman, has established a “GoFundMe” site to support the rebuilding effort:

Click on the link and you’ll be able to contribute. Great idea. Thanks, Mr. Altman. Good luck as you undertake recovery of this important Columbia cultural asset.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Musgrove Mill SHS Colonial Market and Craft Fair

Musgrove Mill State Historic Site near Clinton, South Carolina, commemorates one of the most important battles of the Revolutionary War. It was here that American Patriot forces proved they could defeat their better equipped and disciplined foe. And just how it might be done.
Here’s a link to a series of articles I did on the site and battle around four years ago. Click here. Plenty of photos and text.
Participants Seek Shade
Last Saturday, July 25th, Musgrove Mill was a more peaceful place. Hosting a colonial market and craft fair. Now, late July in South Carolina can be uncomfortably hot. The 25th was no exception. You can see fair exhibitors clustered in the shade of the site’s huge old trees, doing their best to avoid the sun. At least it didn’t rain, which would have been worse.
150725 Musgrove Mill SHS With Junko-4 as Smart Object-1
We arrived in the early afternoon, hoping to see an interpretation of life in South Carolina during the latter half of the eighteenth century and weren’t disappointed. All sorts of exhibits by some of the Carolina’s better known reenactors and artists specializing in the era.
Dragonfly Traders Games
Here Dennis Voelker of Dragonfly Traders demonstrates “Shut the Box,” a game popular during the Revolutionary War period. Click that photo for a closer view. The Voelkers handmade that and the other games here displayed. Remarkable work. Listening to Mr. Voelker’s explanation I accused him of being an academic. He denied the charge …. I still wonder …..
Dragonfly Traders Small
Ignoring the heat we moved along to the Early Family’s exhibit, where I failed to get a good photo, to the real reason we decided to attend the fair.
James Family Painting
The remarkable work of potter Karmen James.
KMJ Pottery
She runs KMJ Crafts and Pottery. What an artist. Be sure to click the photo above to get a better look at the work she displayed at the fair.
Potter at Work
Ms. James works without a wheel. Much of her pottery is of the “pinch and coil” variety. The same technique used by early American Indian potters. Potters around the world, for that matter.
We were able to watch a few minutes of her “pinching and coiling” as you see in the photo above. Give the photo a click so you get a more detailed view. That pen-looking tube beside her board is a coil of clay she’d prepared.
In a weak moment Ms. James agreed to sit down for a CarolinaConsidered interview later in the year. She’s busy until then. Well … she’ll be busy then too, but I’ll try to pin her down. Should be a great one. Drop a note if you have suggestions for questions to ask her.
Robert Hall ReEnactor
Mr. Robert Hall, the celebrated colonial reenactor, was set up down near the Historic Site office and museum building. Click on the link above to access his Facebook page. It’s well worth a visit. He described himself when I asked as just a “retired public defender,” or something like that. Well! Have a look at his background. He sure knows a lot about this period of American and South Carolina history. Must have been that good University of South Carolina undergraduate and law school education ….
Battle Uniforms
By the time we finished at Mr. Hall’s exhibit we were ready for a good dose of air conditioning. So in the museum we went. Be sure to save time for a good long visit to this museum when you’re next at Musgrove Mill. They’ve done a lot in such a small space. Interpreter, Mr. Bobby James, will answer your questions and provide even more information about the battle and era if you ask.
Eric Williams Artist
Back outside we took another turn around the field and got to see some of the work of Greenwood, South Carolina artist, Mr. Eric Williams. Click on that photo for a better look at his display. Didn’t get a chance to chat. He was busy answering questions. I think, but am not sure, that Mr. Williams was the longtime head of the Ninety-Six Historic Site maintained by the National Park Service. If so, quite a background! His art reflects that sort of experience, anyway.
By this time we both were all sunned out, so to speak. Had to have big drinks of water and get back to the truck.
Horseshoe Falls Painting
There’s even more to see on the other side of the river if you still have time. Better yet, come back for a second full day to walk the trails, see the battlefield proper, and enjoy the horseshoe falls you see above. Give that photo a click and cool off!
So there you have it. Musgrove Mill State Historic Site’s Colonial Craft Fair. I hope they make this an annual event. Maybe next year in the spring or fall when the weather will be a little more comfortable. But we’ll attend any time of year. Well worth the drive.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Finally, A Restaurant that Keeps Improving

[Click any of these photos for a full-sized view.]

We’ve all had the experience. A new restaurant opens nearby. We drop in for a meal. It’s Terrific! Nothing like it around. A welcome addition to the neighborhood. Great food; great service. Dining areas, parking lot, and even the restrooms all perfect. A new “great find.”

Months pass. Sometimes six. Sometimes as few as two. This “latest and greatest find” now isn’t quite what it used to be. Usually, the condition of the facility is the first to go. Not as neat and clean as it used to be. Then the service takes a hit. Finally, the once-legendary kitchen no longer produces those terrific dishes. Few survive.

Well, here’s one restaurant that’s only gotten better since the Allens, Carol, Kelly, and their dedicated crew, opened the doors in April 2008. Every month, it seems, brings a change. A new must-try dish on the menu; new blends of tea, perfectly brewed; a whole new look for the downstairs CafĂ© or upstairs Tea Room. That’s over seven years of improvement!

My wife and I have been enjoying lunch, tea, and even high tea, here since early 2009. We drive up from Columbia every chance we get, and we’ve yet to be disappointed.

After visiting for more than three years I mustered the courage to ask Carol Allen to sit for a CarolinaConsidered interview. She finally agreed. Click here for a listen and more photos. Carol explains the origins of the Tea Room and gives a few hints of her plans for its future.

Laura’s Tea Room has a new website. If you haven’t visited for a while go on over to for a look around. Julie Buffington has done a great job. Maybe I can persuade her to redo the CarolinaConsidered website one of these days.

Oh, and next time you visit the Tea Room be sure to add your e-mail to Carol’s list. Her posts are a great way to start your day. And, she provides up-to-the-minute news about Tea Room happenings. Including sales! There must be some way to sign up electronically, but I couldn’t find it.

So, there you have it. Finally, a restaurant that actually improves over time. In Ridgeway, South Carolina! 

Walking back up Palmer Street to the truck during our last visit I snapped the photo above. That’s in front of Emma and Lillie’s Cottage Goods. One of Ridgeway’s newest businesses. What a place! You’ll have to stop. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Mountain Laurel at Keowee Toxaway State Park in SC

This afternoon I took a walk along the Natural Bridge Trail here at Keowee-Toxaway State Park. To see the blooming mountain laurel. What a sight!

Here's a short video:

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

High Tea at Laura’s Tea Room, Ridgeway SC

Last week we had High Tea at Laura’s Tea Room in Ridgeway, South Carolina. Yes, “high tea” at Laura’s Tea Room deserves capital letters. It’s a remarkable experience. We visit Laura’s Tea Room in Ridgeway fairly often. But usually time permits only soup and a sandwich at the downstairs cafe. While that’s well worth a drive to Ridgeway, High Tea upstairs is nothing short of spectacular.
150204 Laura's Tea Room (2)
So, schedules cleared and reservations secured, up the stairs we went to the impressive second floor tea room proper. My wife selected a hat and sat down to chat with a special tearoom guest while we waited for our table. We’ve met her here before, but have been asked not to mention names …..
On Wednesday Carol Allen and her crackerjack staff provided a special menu. You can see it here on the right. High Tea Menu Chuck full of goodies. Click the small image to open it into a more readable size.
Can you imagine? “Cherry green iced tea”? I couldn’t. Fortunately my wife -- she of more eclectic taste -- gave it a try and encouraged me. Well! It was good. More than good, really. A perfect beginning for this special meal.
Now, if “Spring Cherry Green Iced Tea” hasn’t surprised you, check the “Pot of Mango Chili Tea” just below it. Mango Chili? Oh my. I had a cup. But Junko finished the rest. Even said she enjoyed it.
Now, I’m no fanatical consumer of salads. They’re fine. Usually. I’ll eat them when served. But mostly to be polite. All the while looking forward to more substantial offerings. Most sit-down-type restaurants start you off with some sort of salad. Ho hum.
saladWell, if you share my indifference to any dish that requires a “salad” label, click on the photo above. take a close look at the salad Laura’s Tea Room serves with High Tea. This was really good. The lettuce was fresh. Seriously fresh. As was everything else! So, when you go for High Tea, don’t ignore, or just pick at, the salad. It’s part of the experience.
Same with the soup. Perfect flavor. I can’t imagine that any part of that cup of soup ever saw the inside of a can. It sure didn’t taste like what I was raised on.
All of this leads up to the Main Event: Savories and Sweets. They’re listed on the menu above. Too many to summarize here. All sorts of things.
Savories and Sweets
You have to see it – and taste it – to believe it. Nothing there from a box. All prepared right in the Tea Room kitchen downstairs the night and morning before.
So, there you have it. If a confirmed meat-and-potatoes fellow like me can look forward to High Tea at Laura’s Tea Room it will suit anybody.
Sometimes it’s possible to get in for High Tea without a reservation, but not usually. Call ahead and let the staff know how many will be in your party.
Reservations are at 803-337-8594. And visit the Tea Room Facebook page by clicking here. Carol keeps it up to date.

Monday, January 19, 2015

A Winter Visit to Edisto Beach State Park SC


Edisto Beach State Park is about right for my tastes any time from about late November to early April. I know; I know. Normal people …. Well, Tastes vary. And I meet a surprising number of campers who visit Edisto only in the winter. So ….

The photo above is of the site of the Park’s Bache Monument out behind the Nature Center. An important historical marker. Named after a great-grandson of Benjamin Franklin. Alexander Bache invented the “bar of invariable length” that finally allowed accurate geographical measurements. Read all about it here.

Here’s a short video compilation of photos I’ve taken at and around Edisto during winter visits. Enjoy.

Should your web browser fail to display the video above properly, click here to go directly to the YouTube iteration.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Edisto Beach State Park in the Winter

South Carolina's Edisto Beach State Park is beautiful even on a rainy winter day.

Click each photo for a larger image

Just outside my campsite.

There's something about this place. Come have a look for yourselves.