In the beginning…Thomas Bouchier and Shadie Townsend, in love and engaged, were gifted the land their home was built on. In 1886, the groom, an attorney and farmer, had the house built as a wedding present for his bride with the proceeds from one cotton crop. Shadie was the daughter of circuit court judge, C.P. Townsend, who served in the South Carolina House of Representatives for three terms. The land on which the Inn stands was a wedding gift from her father and is located next door to her childhood antebellum home, c.1860.
It was long believed the Bouchiers were married on the grounds of their home, until 2005, when the Park’s were contacted by a lady who had purchased Shadie Bouchier’s Bible ten years prior in an antique shop. She began to feel the Bible belonged “back home” and contacted the Park’s through an internet search which directed her to The Breeden Inn website, where reference to Shadie Townsend was made.Enclosed with the Bible, was a letter penned with the following words:
“I am pleased that this Bible is finally somewhere it can be treasured. Obviously Shadie’s children kept the Bible realizing how much God’s word meant to their mother. I’ve no idea how this dear Bible ended up in an antique shop in Marietta, Georgia. I hope this arrives safely and is loved for both its historical value, but more importantly, for the words on the pages. I noticed some of the newspaper clippings seem to be from a local paper in your area.”
Discovered within the pages of the Bible were two wedding announcements from Thomas and Shadie’s wedding, black and white photographs, a child’s hair clippings and poems written to Shadie by her children. It was through the wedding announcements they learned the Bouchier’s wedding was held at the Methodist Church across the street from the Inn. In the wedding announcements, the Parks found mention of their character most interesting.Excerpts are...
The Methodist Church was filled to overflowing by the citizens of Bennettsville. The occasion was a marriage in high life, the contracting parties being Mr. Thomas W. Bouchier, a rising young lawyer, and the lovely and accomplished Miss Shadie M. Townsend. It was one of the most brilliant and fashionable weddings ever held in our town. The wedding service was simply grand and the church was lavishly decorated. All eyes were centered on the bride and groom. The bride is one of the fairest of the fair daughters of Bennettsville. She was surpassingly beautiful. Upon her brow rested a wreath of orange blossoms, from which fell in graceful folds the wedding veil, not fairer than her fair cheeks. The groom appeared the polished and refined gentleman that he is, and walked with manly tread beside the fair lady he had won. The groom is one of our rising, young lawyers and has been a resident of our town for several years, is held in high esteem by all, and has found many friends, who now rejoice at this good fortune. He has plucked a sweet and much loved flower, who will ever beautify the home he has established, and tend to make his existence a stream of bliss - a paradise here below. The charming bride has been a pet of our society since her early girlhood. Our best wishes go out to this happy couple in their hour of joy. May heaven’s richest blessings attend them.
The house was originally Victorian in style. In 1905, the Bouchier’s commissioned English architect Ernest Vincent Richards to make additions to the home. The thiry-eight columned wrap around veranda was designed by Richards. When completed, the architectural style became Beaux Arts.
Richards, who made Bennettsville his home from 1905-1915, was born in Plymouth, England, educated at Eton, and in 1877, was the last architect engaged to assist Constantino Brumidi, in completing his allegorical painting entitled The Apotheosis of George Washington, located in the eye of the rotunda dome of the U.S. Capital in Washington, D.C. Brumidi is known as “the Michelangelo of the Capital” by historians. The Brumidi Corridors are the richly painted hallways on the first floor of the Senate wing in the Capital Building. He is considered a master in tempera, oil , trompe l’oeil and buon fresco (true fresco). Proud of his accomplishments in the Capital Building, Brumidi remarked:
“I no longer have any desire for fame or fortune. My one ambition and my daily prayer is that I may live long enough to make beautiful the Capital of the one country on earth in which there is liberty.”
An entire hall in the Capital Building is named in honor of Brumidi’s great talent.
Richards talents were not only in architectural design. He was also recognized as a gifted artisan, artist in oil, pen and ink, sculptor, wood carver, stained, beveled and leaded glass artist, engraver, art photographer, stage scenery designer, muralist, cartoonist, and did wood engravings for Punch Magazine in England. His details can be found in many above mentioned areas throughout the interior and exterior of The Main House.
The house has been home to six other families…
Thomas Bouchier passed away while the additions were being made. The home was sold to the J.P. Edens (great grandparents to Douglas Jennings, our House Representative both present and of many years). The Edens resided from 1907-1919.
A number of years ago, Mrs. Charlton Rogers, born in 1899 and who lived in The Carriage House as a young child, so graciously described how she attended dances held in the downstairs of The Main House . “The children would sweep in step to music from parlor to parlor.” She recalls the Edens home as “a pleasant place to visit where she always felt welcome.” The rose vase pictured with Shadie’s Bible was purchased by the Parks from Mrs. Rogers prior to her passing.
The Inn was named in honor of the third…The Archie P. Breeden family who resided in the home for 54 years, 1919-1973.
Archie Breeden farmed 2,000 acres. The Main House was their “downtown” home. They also owned a farm house two miles from the Inn. During the 1940’s and 50’s, the Breedens shared their home as a teacherage. Young teachers boarded in the house and used their educational skills in the schools of this rural community. While in her 90s, Harriet Breeden Fairfield, who grew up in the home, beautifully penned a detailed account of the homes interior and described the interesting decorating process after her parents purchased the home. We learned of Sunday dinners in the dining room and dramatic plays of childhood imaginations, held behind velvet curtains in the music parlor, setting the stage for happy children to enjoy good old-fashioned fun.
The fourth owners…(1973-1975) The Dr. Bruce Usher family were related to the Breeden’s and are both Bennettsville natives. During their short ownership, Dr. Usher could not pass up a promising medical career offer in Charleston, SC. The Usher’s had the swimming pool built.
The fifth family…The Bud Tabo’s. (1975-1980) Bud flew Air Force One during three presidential administrations, Nixon, Ford, and Carter. Bud owned the McDonald’s Fast Food franchise in town. He has been a gracious guest here at the Inn several times. In 1978, the property was selected to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places as one of many key structures contributing to the character of the Bennettsville Historic District.
The sixth family…The Larry Grulicks … Purchased the house in 1980 and applied for government grant restoration monies. Through their efforts, the house was made suitable for a bed and breakfast. They opened the bed and breakfast in 1982. In that same year, five Marlboro County buildings were nominated for the Historical Society restoration award. Two architects from Columbia were selected to judge. The judges said, “They had their hands full in choosing.” The Breeden House Inn was awarded the Marlboro County Restoration Award. The Parks are grateful to the Grulicks for their part in the restoration of The Breeden Inn. As a result of their vision, the foundation was laid for this quiet, elegant resting place. Judy Grulick is a dear friend of the Parks and a former teacher of their children. They always look forward to her visits.
The seventh family…Wesley & Bonnie Park… (1988 – Present ) While living on Florida’s Gulf Coast, “seeds” were planted to own and operate a bed and breakfast. Wesley was in private CPA practice. Bonnie, a homemaker, busy mom with two young children, gardener, avid collector of antiques collectibles and an antique shop owner. After exhausting their year long search for an old home in Florida, they planned a three week family vacation in 1988, that included exploring properties in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley where Wesley attended college. It was on their journey home, during a Black Mountain, NC visit with friends, where the Parks saw the house advertised in Country Living Magazine’s Real Estate Sampler section.
Calling out of curiosity and with no real plan to choose South Carolina as a landing spot, they explored the house the next day. Wesley was smitten by the amount of interior wood untouched by the scarring of the paintbrush. Unusual to 19th century houses, seven outbuildings, original to the property were still on the grounds…The original kitchen, the canning room, the carriage house, the wash house, the smoke house, the necessary and the tool shed. In addition, the Park’s found a bed and breakfast offering a swimming pool an unusual and appealing amenity.
The next day they put a contract in on the house. As a result of the ad in Country Living Magazine, they waited four months while the owner explored all options of interest in the property. In September 1988, the Parks made “the move”, and by October, though the plan was to open at a much later date, their phone began ringing for overnight stays and they have been opening their doors and welcoming wonderful folks from all over the world ever since.
During their 20 years at the Inn, they have continued restoration efforts and met the need for more guest rooms by restoring three additional 19th century houses as part of the Inn. The houses are connected by winding garden walks, and the extensive grounds have hundreds of plant and tree varieties.