My husband and I bought the Main Plantation outside Charleston on a lark. We retired five years ago
and after thousands of games of golf and a closet full of paint by numbers canvasses, we needed a
second career. So the Main B and B began. The name shows it’s a bed and breakfast and also names us as its proprietors, Bill and Barb.
The Main plantation is a beautiful antebellum gem, with all the quaint markers of the day. Big white
columns greet guests after the long magnolia tree drive usher them in like a red carpet. Inside the home is frozen in time back to the days when cotillions and big hoop dresses were the order of the day. I loved this house the moment I walked in. And the two-tiered porch in the rear sealed the deal. It’s lined with Adirondack chairs. Bill and I sit out there and bid farewell to the sun’s reflection in the river every night.
The home was completely preserved as it was originally adorned in the mid 1800’s by a long line of the Main family, right up to the last Main, who died a year ago. From the trim, wallpaper and marble
fireplaces down to the brass candlesticks and the huge gold-framed mirrors in every room, it was all
there, just as it was.
When we first moved in, we started to rearrange the furniture and knick knacks a bit to accommodate
the B and B idea. But I would move something and the next day, it was back in its original place. This
went on for two weeks. First I thought I was having senior moments and just forgot to move things
around. Then, I was beginning to think I’d lost my mind.
So, I decided to do some research about the house, and what I found was the family’s matriarch
Margaret Main. Mrs. Main moved to the brand new mansion as a bride in 1838. She spent her life toiling over every detail maintaining the mansion for the grand events she held there. Even during the war, the party never ended, as Margaret regularly entertained confederate generals and presidents, to ensure her home’s safety from the war’s ruinous path of destruction. The house was her life. When Margaret Main died her will demanded the house continue with the family line and that all the finishes, fixtures, and especially all the mirrors in the mansion remain in place. Mrs. Main believed mirrors are a window to the past, present and future.
Then it clicked. When I altered something, anything, there would be a strange chilling breeze in the
room. But when I left everything in place, I felt a warmth, even a glow about the room. It was Mrs.
Bill thought I was losing it, but I decided to sit down in front of Mrs. Main’s painting and have a heart to heart. I told her how much I loved the house and promised to cherish it. And I explained what we were doing with the house and asked permission to move some furniture around. I think it worked, because we made some minor accommodations without issue.
Ever since then I talk to Mrs. Main all the time about the house. After learning about her, I feel
connected to her and to her home. I understand her wish to keep her legacy alive. Bill doesn’t get it,
but I feel her presence in the house. It may sound silly, but I really don’t ever think her spirit left.
“Good morning Mrs. Main, I think polishing the candlesticks are on our list today,” I said to Mrs. Main’s
painting. “Oh and I won’t forget the mirrors. I need to get into those intricate guilded frames. I know
they’re important to you.”
“You act as though you’re her maid,” Bill laughed, accompanied by Sala, their golden Labrador.
“I know,” I laughed. “But somehow I feel it’s still her house and it’s my job to be its caretaker.”
“Careful, you need to do a good job for Mrs. Main,” he chided.
“Oh just go walk the grounds and take Sala with you,” I laughed and rushed him out the door. “He just doesn’t understand us, Mrs. Main? He’ll never experience the connection you and I have to this house. I love it too.”
“I know you do, Barb, but you missed a spot. I will always be here to guide you,” Mrs. Main said in the distance.
(c) Copyright Suzanne Rudd Hamilton, 2020.