The Inn at Middleton Place celebrated 25 years in June 2012. And while that doesn't seem like a major anniversary in a town with a 300-year history, its design, location, layout – its personality – continue to make the Inn one of the most interesting lodging facilities in Charleston.
The Inn at Middleton Place opened in 1987 and was immediately hailed for its modern design and environmentally-sensitive layout. The Inn was designed and executed by W.G. Clark and Charles Menefee of Charleston. Lead architect W.G. Clark approached the design with a variety of factors in mind. First, he wanted the buildings to complement historic Charleston architecture; more specifically, the architectural ruins that seem to be emerging out of the earth and ancient forests and can still be found throughout the Low Country. In previous interviews, Clark pointed to the ruins of the Old Sheldon Church in Yemassee, S.C. as inspiration, saying if one were to come out of the woods on the back side of the Inn, the structures would appear to be unoccupied, as if they had always been there.
The second point is paramount. Clark wanted the Inn's buildings to blend into the natural landscape. As few trees as possible were removed or disturbed during construction, and over the years, fig vines have grown to cover many of the Inn's exterior walls. By design, the woods surrounding the Inn seem to be reclaiming the buildings, blending them seamlessly into the 100-year-old live oaks, Spanish moss, and other flora found along the banks of the Ashley River. Even the Inn's 55 guest rooms, with their extensive use of cypress and minimal apparent design remind one more of a quaint cabin in the woods or the hold of some ancient ship.
Clark once wrote of his philosophy of architecture that all building should be atonement for the disturbance of the land. "At the necessary juncture of culture and place, architecture seeks not only the minimal ruin of landscape, but something more difficult: a replacement of what was lost with something that atones for that loss," he wrote in a 1991 essay titled Replacement. "In the best architecture, this replacement is through an intensification of the place, where it emerges no worse for human intervention, where culture's shaping of the place to specific use results in a heightening of the beauty of the landscape. In these places we seem worthy of existence." The Inn at Middleton Place is a prime and successful example of that sentiment. Clark and Menefee's work paid off. The Inn at Middleton Place was immediately recognized for its outstanding concept and design by the American Institute of Architecture with its Honor Award, the profession's highest accolade for individual buildings by American architects.
Today the Inn at Middleton Place is one of the more romantic getaways in Charleston and draws out-of-town visitors and locals alike. They are drawn to the natural beauty of the dirt paths, landscape, and waterway that surround the property. Admission to Middleton Place – home to America's oldest formal landscaped gardens – helps seal the experience, and is included with each room rental.