For Barbara and Don Rupert, Pleasant Lane Acres was love at first sight.
The Hilton Head couple had grown weary over the years of long trips to Clemson for football games (Don is an alum and fan), and they wanted a getaway home along their route. They first looked at a different house near Edgefield, about 90 minutes from Tiger Town, but when they visited the former home of the Timmerman family (circa 1892), about seven miles north of town off SC 25 ... well, Don knew instantly.
"The peach trees were in bloom, it was like pink clouds everywhere," Barbara says. "Later, Don said: ‘We're buying that second house; I fell in love when we turned up the (tree-lined) drive.'"
That was 1987. The Ruperts - Don is a retired custom construction developer, Barbara a veteran of the hospitality business and a gourmet chef - spent a decade restoring Pleasant Lane Acres ("we called it our PLA-house," she says) to its original glory and beyond. Then in 1998, they decided to move to the house full-time and opened it to the public as Pleasant Lane Acres Bed & Breakfast.
Barbara later added dinners on request "because where are you going to eat?" in Edgefield at night. Meals can be taken in the dining or sitting rooms - "you never have to share a meal with other guests you don't know," Barbara says - on a porch or even at the restored dark-wood bar, rescued from an old store.
The product of their hard work and attention to detail is a unique escape from the stresses of the modern world. Isolated on a 50-acre site, the B&B features the charm of rural South Carolina with amenities fit for a five-star resort - if there were such with just three rooms, plus a Carriage House, added in 2007, that can accommodate up to five people (a split-able king bed and two singles, plus a rollaway bed) for families with children, who are not allowed in the main house.
Pleasant Lane Acres has become a go-to stop for fans headed to the Masters golf tournament in nearby Augusta, Ga. One group at first wondered why they had booked a place 70 miles from Augusta, but they now have permanent reservations each April. With its dining and sitting rooms framed by high arched entryways - a recommendation by a designer from Country Living magazine hired to help with the upgrades - the interior is open and airy, with plenty of exposure to outdoor light.
Modern heating and air conditioning (the house had neither when they bought it), up-to-date bathrooms, restored fireplaces, flat-screen TVs and other additions make it cozy and comfortable, while enough rustic. Nineteenth century touches (including original walls and 12-foot ceilings on the first floor) remain to make it feel like a visit to another time. Because the Ruperts did much of the work themselves, the house has a warm, welcome-home feel.
There are comfortable chairs and porches for sitting, a piano for those who play, and complimentary adult beverages for unwinding. Not to mention a pond for fishing, wooded trails for hiking or strolling, picnic tables and even two rescue horses, Dodo and Soiree, for feeding and petting - plus a menagerie of friendly rescue dogs who love everyone when not in their kennel; a separate kennel is available for guests' dogs.
So, where to start - the house or the food? That's a tough choice.
Upstairs are two bedroom suites. Jeff's Room, named for the Ruperts' son, is a dark-green, dormer-ceilinged, hunting-motif space with a working fireplace and one of the house's two claw-foot tubs, plus shower. Across the hall is Stewart's room, a more romantic setting with armoire, queen-size bed and the other claw-foot tub and shower tandem.
On the first floor, Mother's Room has a plush bed and chairs, modern walk-in shower and - a special treat - glass doors opening onto a porch overlooking the backyard. A few steps away, the Carriage House has a large great room, large flat-screen TV and a full kitchen.
Then there's the second "B" (breakfast) - or maybe the Ruperts should add a "D" for dinner, both with fabulous food and personal service. On a recent visit, the five-course evening meal included an amuse-bouche - Peppadew peppers stuffed with Clemson blue cheese - followed by a lump crabcake appetizer with jicama and carrot slaw, a baby spinach-strawberry-pecan salad featuring a secret recipe Hoffman dressing and a Grand Marnier sorbet to cleanse the palate.
Next was the entree: this night, grilled filet mignon (or marinated portabella mushroom for vegetarian tastes) with parsley buttered potatoes and steamed asparagus. Each course included fresh, hot bread (French, Italian and sourdough) and wines to match the dishes. Dessert, a creme brulee and coffee concluded the feast.
Should anyone have room by the next morning, Barbara served baked and sweetened grapefruit, fresh orange juice and eggs Benedict. Coffee was on hand before and during breakfast. Menus vary according to what Barbara is inspired to cook, or what's freshest.
If the house, food and ambience of Pleasant Lane Acres aren't enough of a lure, the Ruperts are the deal-closer. Barbara is a welcoming hostess and recipe sharer (for some items), food confidante and new friend by the end of a stay. Don is a friendly, talkative "bon companion" who loves to share a drink and discuss sports.
Barbara wants to know her guests, so reservations are made by phone, not on the website; call 888.771.3161 toll-free or 803.637.9387. Address: 318 Pleasant Lane Road, Edgefield, SC 29824.
Edgefield is a bit off the beaten path (90 minutes west of Columbia), but that's part of its charm. Local sights include the National Wild Turkey Center and nearby Palmetto Shooting Complex; the Phoenix Factory's Old Edgefield Pottery; and, on the tidy town square, The General Store (souvenirs, ice cream and more) and the Carolina Moonshine Distillery, serving up tastings and assorted bottled spirits.
Pleasant Lane Acres B&B is Edgefield's crowning touch for a relaxing, enjoyable getaway. Go once, and it's easy to fall in love with the place - just as the Ruperts did so many years ago.