Lofts Provide “Metropolitan Style” in Historic Downtown Charleston, SC

Published in Coastal Condo Living 2003

Photography: I. Wilson Baker

Charleston has a wonderful reputation for safeguarding its treasured historic buildings. While in many cases these structures are still being used as originally intended, others have been creatively remodeled and now serve an entirely different purpose.

Such is the case with the circa 1947 Edwards Department Store building located on Upper King St. Now being marketed as the King Street Lofts, this post World War II building offers discriminating residents an uptown, big city experience. Conveniently located within walking distance of up-and-coming restaurants, pubs, and shops, King Street Lofts has allowed their owners the opportunity to customize each unit to their individual tastes.

In the case of owner Lee Richardson, this has translated into a very clean, contemporary and minimalistic three-level residence complete with a one-of-a-kind rooftop garden and pool area. “We were going for a very Manhattan look,” says interior designer Sissy Bradham, owner of Bradham Interiors. “What Lee has is absolutely fabulous and something not seen in Charleston,” continued Bradham.

One of 14 units, contemporary lofts in downtown Charleston are the exception rather than the rule for Lowcountry architectural style. “Lee knew the spaces and the look he wanted when we began the project,” says T. Doggett, owner of T.O. Doggett Architect and Planner Inc.

Incorporating, rather than concealing many of the prominent features already in place, Doggett created faux-finish marble columns to surround and camouflage existing steel support columns. Covering the original concrete flooring in the main living areas is white oak with a natural matte finish. The gourmet kitchen is raised, making it the focal point for the entire level. Tajah Malabar tile surrounds steamed European beech cabinetry, Cambrian Black granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. John Cook, owner of The Mill, the company responsible for all cabinetry and millwork says, “Use of the black accents really helps to set off the clean lines.”

Flanking one end of this level are twin guest bedroom suites. Creative use of all space is showcased underneath the free-flowing cantilevered staircase. This is the place Coco and Smokey, Richardson’s two British shorthair/Abyssinian mix cats call home when not checking out the rest of the 5,300 square foot loft.

Creating multi-level spaces instead of a traditional upstairs/downstairs floor plan, the next level includes Richardson’s home office, media room and climate control wine room. General contractor David Crawford, owner of Seaside Construction says, “This was a very challenging and complex project.”

The wine room, located off the second floor staircase landing was obviously designed by a wine connoisseur. The 120- square-foot space, with Giallo Reale tile flooring, has custom redwood racks, Volga Blue granite topped pouring station, and is enclosed with a smoked glass front.

Handcrafted specifically for the office is a maple desk and built-ins. Creating an interesting look, all the pieces have been painted creme and then finished with a hand-applied Van Dyke Brown glaze.

As owner of Atlantic Electric, Richardson’s home is a Mecca for all that is new and cutting edge in the lighting business. Radio control switches power all lighting, with certain switches controlling banks of lights. Plus, with only a touch, lighting moods can be set. “Richardson’s use of low voltage lighting is both striking and efficient,” continues Crawford.

The penthouse level is home to the spectacular master suite complete with home gym, tanning area and sauna. At the entrance is a custom bar built of New South Wales lace wood. Highlighted with ebonized beech, the bar was also designed and manufactured by The Mill.

In the master suite the futuristic rimless soaker tub has Kohler fixtures, including a faucet recessed into the ceiling, which when turned on, flows down in a vertical column. Side jets eddy the water up and over the side of the tub and flows to drains placed underneath.

The master bedroom is minimalistic, with only the essentials of a bed and nightstands. The oversized closet/dressing area is complete with built-ins, eliminating the need for traditional bedroom furniture.

Probably the most challenging facet of the entire project was the revamping of the penthouse veranda. Richardson wanted to take advantage of the almost 5,000 square feet of roof space in spite of structural concerns.”Tremendous engineering details were involved because of all the rooftop changes,” notes Crawford. “We had to place five 18×26 beams just for the pool support.”

Ipe decking, a Brazilian hardwood, was used over the entire roof area. In addition to the infinity lap pool there are also fountains, gazebos, planters and a hot tub. The green metal gazebos, built by John Johnson of Precision Metal Fabricators, were designed with palm tree cutouts lending a tropical feel and will one day be covered in Carolina jessamine.

Lush deck landscaping has been created in spite of obvious limitations. Andrew Hargett of T. Hunter McEaddy says, “In planning we had to be constantly aware of weight restrictions.”

Since everything had to be set in pots and planters there was also the added challenge of creating a more sophisticated irrigation system. Richardson’s unit faces south so Hargett had to make sure all plantings were heat and wind resistant. “Shade became an important element, along with making sure we chose plantings which would retain their lushness in spite of the heat and wind,” Hargett says. “Plus, Lee wanted everything to be easy maintenance.”

While this was a project that included a bit of trial and error simply because of its uniqueness, by surrounding himself with visionaries Richardson now has a home unlike anything else found in downtown Charleston.

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Pepperoni Rolls

I recently watched a CBS Sunday Morning piece about pepperoni rolls and had to know more. Turns out they are a very regional delicacy usually found only in West Virginia, Western Pennsylvania, Western Maryland and a tiny portion of Ohio.  Played around with a couple recipes I found online until I came up with my own…and they are pretty tasty if I do say so myself.

I use Rhodes thaw, rise and bake dinner rolls but any brand of roll that has to be thawed and then allowed to rise should work. The beauty of using these rolls is you can make as many or as few as you’d like.

Rise & Bake Yeast Rolls
Sliced Pepperoni (though some people swear by pepperoni sticks)
Mozzarella Cheese 
Non-Stick Spray
Butter 

Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place frozen dough balls
2" apart. Spray one side of a piece of saran wrap with cooking
spray and place that side down on top of the rolls. Takes a 
couple hours for the dough to thaw and begin to rise. Once thawed
remove from baking sheet and flatten each individual roll to make 
a circle. 

Then add anywhere from 4 to "the sky's the limit" pepperoni slices. 
On top of the pepperoni add anywhere from a tablespoon to "the sky's
the limit" shredded mozzarella cheese. For my latest batch I used
Tillamook Farmstyle Thick Cut shredded mozzarella and it was 
outstanding!

Roll the filled dough up, tucking the ends in so they look like 
large egg rolls. Place seam side down in a greased 9x13 baking dish 
and let rise until the rolls are double in size. Depending on how warm
your kitchen is, this generally takes around an hour. If it's winter or
even the middle of summer with the a/c running full blast, I will 
put the pan in the oven and simply turn the oven light on. That usually
generates just enough heat to help the dough do its thing.

Once the rolls have doubled in size, place in a 350 oven and bake 
for 25-30 minutes or until they are golden brown. Remove from oven 
and immediately take a stick of butter and rub the end of the stick 
over the tops of the rolls. 

Pepperoni rolls can be eaten hot or cold. I generally refrigerate
any leftovers but some recipes say they can be left out. 

Also, some recipes suggest jazzing them up by melting the butter 
instead of rubbing it on and then adding garlic powder or Italian 
seasoning and brushing the tops with the seasonings. 

I say why mess with perfection? 



Sour Cream Peach Pie

Time is drawing near for in-season peaches. So don’t delay, head to the nearest peach orchard today, pick you up a peck of peaches, stop by the store get some sour cream and a deep dish pie shell…you should already have sugar and eggs on hand, and get to baking. Simple, easy, quick and super delicious!

Frozen deep dish pie shell-unbaked
6-8 peaches, peel, slice and layer in the unbaked pie shell

Mix: 
2 eggs
1 cup sugar 
1 cup sour cream
Put unbaked pie shell on baking sheet. Pour egg, sugar and sour cream 
mixture over peaches. Warning: it will probably run over so stop when 
it gets to that point.
Bake for 10-15 minutes at 450 then leaving the pie in the oven, reduce 
the heat to 350 and bake for another 35-40 minutes. The center will be 
jiggly but should set up slightly as it cools. If it seems too runny, 
just bake a couple more minutes. Also, check during the baking process 
and cover the crust edge if necessary to keep from over-browning. 

Good served hot or cold. Can sit out for about a day but if there is
any left after that I would stick it in fridge.


Before:

 

After:  

Susie & Ed’s Italian Kitchen

Susie and Ed’s Italian Kitchen says “Andiamo a Mangiare!” which translated means “Let’s go to Eat!” And even though sadly they are no longer in business the taste of their lasagna and spaghetti and homemade meatballs lingers in my memory. Published in the February, 2015 issue of fete Greenville, this article comes with a warning: Don’t Read While Hungry!

Renato Moncini The First Artist of Space

Published in the July, 2013 online issue of fete Greenville. Unfortunately, the article is no longer available on the fete Greenville website but can be found on SCRIBD by clicking the highlighted link above.  I also typed the text and included it below, as the original copy is reproduced and difficult to read. The photos used in the original article are included so you have the opportunity to see some of Mr. Moncini’s most iconic works.

 

 

Born and raised outside Pisa, Italy, Renato Moncini by his own admission didn’t receive a great deal of formal education past high school. But when you hear the story of his life, you realize that in many cases, especially his, God given talent trumps anything from a book or classroom.

After graduating high school he attended a local vocational school and subsequently went to work for the Piaggio factory in Pontadera, Italy, welding Vespa scooters. His interest in both continues to this day. Driving in for my interview I passed through gorgeous hand welded iron gates; while parked on the back patio was a pristine blue Vespa.

At that time mandatory military service was required so Moncini joined the Italian Air Force as an engineer. Arriving in the United States in the late 1950’s as part of a cooperative air defense program between the two countries, he met and married the love of his life Faye, and decided to settle in the States after fulfilling his military obligations.

Moncini initially worked for a government contractor before being hired by NASA in 1965 as a full-time illustrator based at the Marshall Space Center in Huntsville, Alabama. He told me, “I could barely speak English…and am so blessed for the position I was able to obtain.” Moncini’s 14 years at NASA occurred during the height of our nation’s space program, “We were on the edge of technology.” During this time he created thousands of full-color illustrations of space, shuttles, rocker launches, technological machinery and space landscapes, as well as rush jobs for emergencies like the famous, “Houston, we have a problem” Apollo 13 mission in 1970. Moncini illustrated all the Cape Canaveral rocket launches and many of his works, to this day, hang in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

Relocating to Greenville to work for Fluor Daniel, Moncini retired in 1993 and now keeps himself busy with everything from gardening; he grows all his own herbs; to cooking; I left with a bag full of wonderful homemade raisin cashew biscotti; home improvements and of course drawing and painting.

On July 5th the T.L. Norris Gallery presents Renato Moncini: The First Artist of Space Exhibit. The opening meet the artist reception will be held that evening from 5:30 to 9:00PM.  Come marvel over some of America’s most iconic historical illustrations of the space race and meet in person the gentleman responsible for bringing them to life. The entire exhibit will be open to the public through July 31st.

 

What a Compliment!

8/2013 I’ve had the pleasure of doing this professionally for many years now and while I’ve gotten many compliments over those years, this is one of the most heartfelt words of praise I’ve ever received. Renato Moncini is a dear sweet humble gentleman who was a pleasure to interview and whose work captured NASA and its many space shuttle launches during the height of America’s space race. If you missed reading the piece when it was originally published in Fete Greenville, here is the Renato Moncini story.

“Dear Jay Thank you for the link to FETE, I went to Staple and print copies directly from the internet, came out beuatiful, I’m using these for a comprehensive booklet to sent to my relatives here and Italy. I was able to read for the first time the article of Lee Ann, I need to tell her that was the best i ever had , was precise and well written. I have a print foe both of you genius. if you can, come by, thanks so much.”
Renato”

 

I would love to hear your comments after reading about this amazing and interesting man.