Its very name may conjure limpid images of mimosas, cotillions and iced lemon teas, but the 155-room Dewberry – named, in fact, after its Atlanta-based real estate magnate owner – channels its Deep South DNA without ever straying into kitsch.
For that, kudos to the Brooklyn- and Charleston-based Workstead for working up with such disciplined brio the interiors of the Mendel Rivers Federal Building in Charleston’s downtown quarter.
Channeling what the designers describe as Southern Modernism, the spaces are dressed with American and European mid-century flourishes. From the armoires in the bedroom, side chars in mohair to caned panelled ceilings, and sofas swathed in washed linen and midnight blue, to scooped plaster ceiling lights and floors salvaged from a tobacco farm in Georgia, the improbable mix is pulled together with considerable brio.
In the main house-restaurant Henrietta’s, Wes Morton sends out a menu that’s as charmingly eclectic as the hotel’s décor, such as steak frites, vast platters of shellfish and Maine mussels, skate wings and lamb curries.
The building, says Workstead’s Robert Highsmith, was, until its spruce up by architect MacMillan Pazdan Smith and Workstead, derided by locals for its severe monolithic modernism. ‘People are coming around to it now.’ They should.