pavement showing through
North Street, Downtown Beaufort
The Gold EagleTavern:
Gone, But Not Forgotten
Information Services Coordinator (2007);
Additions made by Grace Cordial,
Beaufort District Collection Manager (2012)
of the Gold Eagle Tavern by William Halsey, in the
Ford Treasury of Favorite Recipes from Famous Eating
approved by S. A. Nicholls, Ford Motor Co.)
parts of the tabby foundation
remain, but the Gold Eagle Tavern lives on in name and reputation.
Its name derives from the profession of Henry William De Saussure,
director of the United States Mint. Under De Saussures directorship,
the first "gold eagle" dollars were minted. Beaufort-born
Henry De Saussure acquired the property (along the river at New
and Bay Streets) from his father, Daniel De Saussure (born of
Huguenot immigrants, near Pocotaligo in 1736, the elder De Saussure
served in the South Carolina State Senate). The original owner
had been Miles Brewton, from whose grandson, Robert, the De Saussures
obtained the land.
oldest section of the tavern dated from 1795, and later construction
was in the "Beaufort Style". But perhaps the most
distinctive feature was added by owner Kate Gleason in the 1920s. This landmark
was a dense, cylindrical tower built of concrete, with conical
roofing, dividing the river side of the building
into equal halves (the December 30, 1965 Beaufort Gazette
said that its style was "reminiscent of a Norman
castle"). Its simplicty is said to typify Gleasons
design concepts for low-coast suburban housing (she had a
number of such houses built in Beaufort).
The City of Beaufort now preserves the marsh view
that captivated guests at the Gold Eagle Tavern.
Photograph by Dennis Adams
(August 7, 2002)
Gold Eagle Tavern opened in March 1930, it was under the management
of Mr. and Mrs. L. E. Wilder. The Marine
Band from Parris Island played for the first-night guests.
Eagle was also a hotel, and its fame spread far by the word of
mouth of its guests. Northerners who spent the winter in Beaufort
and visitors from overseas signed its guest book. Artists, writers,
actors and newlyweds came often to the Gold Eagle, as well as
Beaufortonians who stepped carefully down a narrow stairway to
take their Sunday meals in the basement dining room. The fare
blended the best of Lowcountry seafood and Continental specialties
-- and there was that breathtaking view of the river and marshes!
In a sketch entitled "Beaufort's Queen of the Night in Blue",
Gilbert Augustus Selby described a "beautiful phenomenon"
that he and friends had watched from the Gold Eagle terrace "just
after sunset on September the seventeenth" (of 1934):
"With the heavens for a canvas, from zenith to
the southwest horizon, the greatest of Artists, Nature,
had painted another glorious masterpiece, the motif
being continuous areas of variable size and contour,
in a soft medium tone of ultramarine or lapis lazuli
blue, each framed in clouds of brilliant silver, copper
and gold, while the restless waters of Beaufort Bay
were mirrored in exquisite
a pale pearl azure background, Luna, the Queen of Night,
appears in luminous splendor, wearing, in honor of the
Harvest Month, a royal robe of turquoise blue beneath
gossamer veil of silvery grey.
radiant picture now in its entirety presents an entrancing
ensembleof color and beauty, suggesting in its enchantment
an approach to the celestial Gates of Paradise --
and adds another glory to the Carolina Coast."
wrote his sketch just two days after the "beautiful phenomenon",
when the impression was still vivid in his memory.
Lucille Hasell Culp, a local photographer, snapped images of the interior and gardens of the Gold Eagle Tavern during the 1940s. Four of these images are available for online viewing in the digital Lucille Hasell Culp Collection: A Celebration of Beaufort, South Carolina: Interior of Guest Bedroom; Dining Room; The Garden; and
Sitting Area of a Guest Room. (The Lucille Hasell Culp Collection images were posted with the assistance of the Lowcountry Digital Library).
Ford Treasury of Favorite Recipes from Famous Eating Places
recommended the Gold Eagle among only three restaurants in the
state (the others were located in Charleston and Greenville).
The Treasury printed the following recipe to represent
the Gold Eagles bill of fare:
1 cup ground cold meat
1 ˝ small onions, chopped
1 celery heart, chopped
the onion and celery in butter and combine with cold
meat and sliced bananas. Roll biscuit dough thin and
spread the mixture over it. Roll dough jelly-roll fashion
and slice pieces off the completed roll. Bake in a greased
pan until browned. Serve with cream sauce and chopped
Ford Treasury reported that (in 1950, at least) the inn
was closed for the Summer Season from July to 31 to October 31,
and that reservations were requested.
the distinguished guests of the Gold Eagle was Countess
Mary Annette Beauchamp Russell (1866-1941). The Countess
was the sister-in-law of the controversial philosopher and mathematician
Bertrand Russell. She was an author in her own right, and under
the nom-de-plume of "Elizabeth" the Countess wrote Mr.
Skeffington (1940) and an autobiography, All
the Dogs of My Life (1936). Twentieth
Century Authors named her "one of the first
wits of her time". It was "Elizabeth's" custom
to leave the Gold Eagle each morning at 7:00 for a walk around
Beaufort with her cocker spaniel, Billy. She died at the Riverside
Infirmary in Charleston.
Marshall (1894-1967) was another author to frequent the
Gold Eagle Tavern. An American novelist, short-story writer and
explorer, Marshall wrote The Heart of Little Shikala,
and Other Stories (1922) and The Viking
(1951), among other works. The author of Love Stories
of India (1950) also gave the propietors the curry
recipe for which the Gold Eagle's restaurant was famous.
celebrated guests were: Dorothy Canfield,
Clark Gable, Sir Winfred
and Lady Grenfeld, Francis Griswold (author of the Beaufort
novel, A Sea Island Lady), Frances
Parkinson Keyes, David Lawrence, Ravenel Sass, poet Archibald
Rutledge, Kathryn Drayton Mayrant Simons, and
Adlai Stevenson. Famous South Carolina politicians James
F. Byrnes, Olin Johnston and L. Mendel Rivers
were frequent visitors to the Gold Eagle.
recently-built private residence now occupies the Gold Eagle
Photograph by Dennis Adams
(August 7, 2002)
tavern closed for the duration of World War II. The owners
died soon after the war, and the Gold Eagle did not survive
them for very long: the last guest checked
out on February 6, 1961.The Beaufort Gazette of
December 30, 1965 reported that E. B. Mitchell of Lobeco (Beaufort
County, SC) was purchasing the property from the present owner,
Mrs. A. E. Samuel (daughter of L. E. Wilder, the original
owner.) "for an undisclosed sum". Mitchell had no
immediate plans for the building (which the Elks Club had
been using for a meeting place for the previous two years),
but planned to demolish it. The Gold Eagle was torn down in
the late 1960s, and a private residence now occupies
historian Gerhard Spieler said that the tavern was "one of
the most picturesque, even if not beautiful, of Beauforts
N. Louise et al. Biographical Directory of the South Carolina
of South Carolina Press, 1986.
of German Garden Fame, Is the Countess Russell" (Undated
photocopy of magazine article in vertical file; magazine title
Writers Project, Works Progress Administration, South
Carolina. Beaufort and the Sea Islands. American Guide
Series. Sponsored and Published by the Clover Club. Review
Printing Company, 1936.
Ford Treasury of Favorite Recipes from Famous Eating Places.
Simon and Schuster, 1950.
Eagle Hotel to Be Purchased". The Beaufort Gazette,
December 30, 1965; p. 1.
Stanley and Haycraft, Howard (Editors). Twentieth
Century Authors. H. W. Wilson, 1942.
Gilbert Augustus. "Sketch: Beaufort's Queen of the Night
in Blue", in Glories of the Carolina
Coast by James Henry Rice Jr. Second
Edition. The R. L. Bryan Company. 1936.
Gerhard. "The Kate Gleason Touch: Her Influence
Here Continues to Live On". The Beaufort Gazette.
Undated copy in Librarys Vertical File.
Gerhard. "Remembering the Gold Eagle Tavern".
Sea Island Scene, July 1997.