The City Magazine Since 1975

Great Escape

Great Escape
January 2019

These days, January may find locals aiming to achieve greater levels of health with Pilates routines or plant-based diets. But a century ago, affluent wellness-seekers were in the habit of visiting winter resorts like Summerville’s Pine Forest Inn, pictured here circa 1904. The hotel’s 1893 brochure claimed that “Nervousness and insomnia yield quickly to the beneficial influence of the pine-laden atmosphere. The worst cases of asthma are permanently benefited and mild ones cured.” Frederick Wagener, a former Confederate soldier and the brother of one-time Charleston mayor Johann Wagener, opened the property in 1891, advertising it to aristocratic tourists as a Southern “oasis” full of popular amusements like billiards, bowling, and horseback riding. Wagener gained a reputation for hosting distinguished guests: President Theodore Roosevelt visited during the South Carolina Interstate and West Indian Exposition in 1902, and Wagener hosted a dinner for President-elect William Howard Taft in January 1909. After thriving for decades, the Pine Forest Inn shuttered during the Great Depression, and the building was demolished after World War II. It’s too bad: serving milk from its own herd of Jersey cows, water either charcoal-filtered or drawn from “an Artesian well,” and fresh fish from Charleston markets, this luxe getaway could have gained the modern-day wellness crowd’s seal of approval. 


Photograph courtesy of