Monday, March 27, 2017

QUIP 2017 - a writing retreat in South Carolina

I went to the Quakers Uniting in Publications annual conference this month at Penn Center on St. Helena Island, South Carolina, a place draped in Spanish moss and historical buildings. It's the site of an early school for freed slaves, started early in the American Civil War.

We stayed in Benezet House, a century-old dorm that housed female students and teachers and hosted classes and co-ed chapel services.

It was nice staying together in one building, grabbing coffee or tea in the morning or settling into couches with our laptops in the shared living room.

QUIP planned more down-time, this year, between guest speakers and business sessions, so there was a little time to walk down to the water and around the historical buildings, or to think and write.

Last year's storms had closed the public (ocean) beach. After a tumble that left me bruised and a little wobbly, I kept my explorations to the inside of the old house.

I'd noticed chimneys and cupola vents from the outside and wondered if the attic might be accessible. There were, indeed, easy stairs up, but the access was partially covered by a large, precarious piece of scrap wood. I peeked through the opening and decided not to try to wrestle the covering.

Most of the attic was filled with modern HVAC ductwork and blown-in insulation. One curious thing was a small wooden room, built up to the roof. What was it used for - storage? Was it used to hide something?

Covered circles in the chimneys and the wide hallway upstairs indicated that wood stoves were used for heat. A beautiful, built-in armoire in the hallway must have been shared. We looked into the room behind it and discovered the space inside is now used for closets, but the facade of doors and drawers has been preserved!

The small museum across the street was loaded with information about the school and the Gullah people who lived on the islands (no photography allowed).

You can read more about Penn Center in Penn Center: A History Preserved.

Here are posts about QUIP 2012, 2011 (and here),

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