Fulton Lane Inn

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Discover the Fulton Lane Inn, which was once two historic buildings that functioned as a YMCA and a local tailor shop, respectively.

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Fulton Lane Inn, a member of Historic Hotels of America since 2022, dates back to 1889.

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A cherished local landmark in downtown Charleston, the Fulton Lane Inn has been a member of Historic Hotels of America since 2022. Its origins harken back to two separate buildings that neighbored one another at the intersection of Fulton Lane and King Street in the heart of the city’s historic district. The first structure debuted during the height of the Gilded Age in 1889, when laborers crafted it to serve as the local YMCA. Designed with red brick and sandstone, the building had a wealth of cutting-edge facilities. In fact, the ground floor featured an indoor swimming pool, while the upper levels had exclusive temporary residences that the YMCA’s members could rent. Then in 1912, John Rugheimer created the second structure. A former “blockade runner” who served in the American Civil War, Rugheimer specifically created the building to house his tailor shop, “John Rugheimer & Sons.” Like its neighbor, the edifice was incredibly beautiful with its yellow brick façade and granite trim. Nevertheless, the two buildings eventually became apartment complexes by the middle of the 20th century.

But in 1992, a new owner acquired both sites and modified them as part of a joint, two-year renovation. The work was incredibly comprehensive, modernizing their residential units for the first time. The construction also thoroughly restored the historical architecture of each building back to their former historical appearances. The structures subsequently underwent an even larger renovation in 2008, where they were combined to form today’s Fulton Lane Inn. The construction was just as intricate, taking months to complete. It nonetheless managed to transform all of the living spaces into a series of 45 upscale accommodations that quickly enchanted the hotel’s new guests. The Fulton Lane Inn has since operated under the stewardship of Charming Inns, which has had three other historic hotels inducted into Historic Hotels of America: John Rutledge House Inn© (1763), Kings Courtyard Inn (1853), and Wentworth Mansion© (1886). The Widman family, owners of Charming Inns, was named the recipient of the 2021 Historic Hotels of America Legendary Family Historic Hoteliers Award.

  • About the Location +

    Named after King Charles II of England, Charleston is among the most historic cities in the whole United States. The first settlers to found the city arrived back in the mid-17th century, when the Lords Proprietors—the original officers for the unsettled Carolina territory—began moving colonists from Barbados and Bermuda to the area. Intent on creating a town as quickly as possible, the Lords Proprietors selected a number of sites around the confluence of the Ashley and Cooper rivers, before finally finding success at a place called “Oyster Point” in 1672. Despite intending to develop the settlement around a visionary plan known as the “Grand Model,” “Charles Towne”—as it was called then—was never incorporated until the American Revolution had ended. Instead, city officials passed local ordinances in the form of municipal laws that attempted to give some kind of legitimacy to the nascent community. Nevertheless, life in early Charleston was incredibly tough, as the town was beset by hostile groups of French, Spanish, and Native American armies. Pirates posed a serious problem, too, who raided the coastline frequently. In fact, Edward Teach—remembered today as “Blackbeard”—was among the pirates to harass Charleston regularly at the time. Furthermore, malaria and other tropical diseases took their toll on the English colonists, as did natural weather phenomenon like hurricanes.

    Growth only picked up once immigrant populations from Europe began expanding westward into the South Carolina interior. Their arrival also saw the city’s economic fortunes change significantly, as it rapidly emerged as a commercial port for the outlying farms that surrounded Charleston. Rice, indigo, and other cash crops were common exports transported into Charleston’s natural harbor, which helped make the city one of the most prosperous in the Thirteen Colonies. But the new maritime commerce had a considerable dark side, for the transatlantic slave trade had also played a role in Charleston’s rebirth. By the eve of the American Revolution, nearly half of the city’s population—some 11,000 people—were either enslaved Africans or their descendants. Still, Charleston’s size and prosperity as a port made it one of the largest cities in British America, as well as the principal point of entry for any person—free or enslaved—entering into the South.

    Charleston remained a busy port even as Great Britain continuously targeted the city throughout the American Revolutionary War. The city itself was eventually captured after British general Sir Henry Clinton successfully subjected it to a prolonged siege in 1780. Still, even greater economic prosperity awaited Charleston once Eli Whitney’s cotton gin made the cultivation of cotton an incredibly lucrative endeavor for local planters. Cotton soon became the primary staple crop shipped through Charleston Harbor right up to mid-19th century. But the number of slaves transported into the city increased dramatically, too. The local devotion to slavery made the city’s white residents committed to the concept of southern secession—an idea that became reality when South Carolina’s state legislature voted to secede following Abraham Lincoln’s first election in 1860. Charleston soon found itself at the middle of the American Civil War that followed, with the first shots of the conflict fired right within its own borders. Rebel militia under the command of P.G.T. Beauregard specifically bombarded the U.S. Army-occupied Fort Sumter shortly after Lincoln’s call for volunteers in April 1861. Four years of constant warfare came in the wake of the attack, which eventually destroyed much of Charleston and the rest of South Carolina.

    Charleston struggled to emerge from the conflict, as industrialists and other entrepreneurs chose to move their operations elsewhere. But in the early 20th century, Charleston underwent a significant cultural renaissance that sought to highlight the positive aspects of the city’s history and culture. New art and literature appeared throughout Charleston, while many historic structures were preserved for the first time. Race relations also began to improve, with local African Americans gradually gaining access to more rights and liberties by mid-century. Charleston now rates among America’s most diverse communities, as well as one of its most culturally vibrant. People today love traveling to the city to experience its many interesting historic sites, such as Fort Sumter, the Historic Charleston City Market, and Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. But visitors also adore the wealth of historical architecture that calls Charleston home, giving it an incredibly gorgeous landscape. Many of those aesthetics—ranging from Greek Revival to Federal—reside within famous neighborhoods like the renowned Charleston Historic District. The Charleston Historic District was even designated a U.S. National Landmark by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior in 1966!


  • About the Architecture +

    Fulton Lane Inn possesses a unique architectural style that can best be described as “eclectic.” Dating to the mid-19th and early 20th centuries, historians today consider “eclecticism” to be part of a much larger movement to fuse together a variety of historical designs. Earlier in the 1800s, architects—particularly those in Europe—decided to rely upon their own loose interpretations of historical architecture whenever they attempted to replicate it. Such a practice appeared within such styles as Gothic Revival, Italianate, and Second Empire architecture. But at the height of the Gilded Age, those architects decided to use historic architecture more literally when developing a building. A few architects went a step further by combining certain historical styles together to achieve something uniquely beautiful. And in some cases, those individuals felt inspired to add a new historical form onto a building that they were renovating—just like the Fulton Lane Inn. Ultimately, the architects felt that joining such architectural forms together would give them a new avenue of expression that they otherwise did not have at the time. They also believed that they had stayed true to the earlier forms, so long as their designs perfectly replicated whatever they were attempting to mimic.

    In Europe, this approach first appeared as a rehash of Gothic Revival-style known as “Collegiate Gothic.” The European architects then used such a mentality to influence the unfolding philosophies of both the Beaux-Arts school of design, as well as the emerging Renaissance Revival-style. Many architects in America followed suit, the most notable of which being Richard Morris Hunt and Charles Follen McKim. The American architects who embraced “eclecticism” were at first interested in the country’s colonial architecture. Much of the desire to return to the time period was born from the revived interest in American culture brought on by the Centennial Exposition of 1876. Pride in preserving the nation’s heritage inspired the architects to perfect the design principles of their colonial forefathers in new and intriguing ways. This interest gradually splintered into other revival styles, though, like Spanish Colonial and Tudor Revival. Some Americans even infused the approach with the popular Beaux-Arts aesthetics of France, such as Hunt and McKim. Yet, the birth of Modernism in the 1920s and 1930s eventually ended the worldwide love affair with “eclecticism,” for architects throughout the West became more enchanted with the ideas of modernity, technology, and progress.


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