Over time, the poor Planter’s Hotel fell into a sad state of disrepair and was set for demolition. But, in 1935 at the height of the Great Depression, after Milton Pearlstine made the property available to the City of Charleston and the urging of Mayor Burnet Maybank, the building became a Works Progress Administration project. Beautiful renovations were made, especially the woodwork and mantels of the second floor drawing room (one of my favorite rooms in the city) which were salvaged from the Radcliffe-King Mansion (circa 1799) which stood at the corner of George and Meeting Streets and was razed to build the College of Charleston gymnasium, another WPA project. Modeled on 18th Century London playhouses by Charleston architect and pioneering preservationist Albert Simons, the present Dock Street Theatre’s new stage house and auditorium were built in the hotel’s courtyard.
In March of 2010, the building reopened for the third time. After a 3-year, $19 million-dollar renovation by the City of Charleston, the building now boasts state-of-the-art lighting system, new sound, new restrooms, and seating. Charleston Stage, which became the resident professional company at the Dock Street Theatre in 1978, produces over 120 shows each season. I’ve been lucky enough to see quite a few over the years and count A Christmas Carol as one of my absolute favorites.
But, back to good ‘ol Nettie. During this recent renovation, one of the workers recounts seeing the ghost of a young woman on practically a daily basis, most often in the hallway of the second floor drawing room. Oh, yes. It’s true. But, it’s not like I can summon Nettie to appear during my tours. (But, I was hoping for something out of the ordinary to happen to really deliver for these women.)
As we climbed the stairs, we crossed over into the drawing room and glanced outside. There’s a spectacular view of the French Huguenot Church from the tall windows, and all of a sudden, the daughter sort of clutched her chest and whispered, “I feel something heavy in here.”